Secularizing Thanksiving

Erin Manning reflects on attempts to write “thanks giving [to God]” out of the narrative of the first Thanksgiving.

It is clear that the colonists did indeed celebrate a harvest festival, but it is equally clear that the purpose of this festival was to thank the good God for having provided them with so abundant an outpouring of the goods of the earth. The debunkers are right about some things: the food probably didn’t include turkeys; though pumpkins and other squash may have been cooked there weren’t any pies, as there was nothing yet to make pie crust with, no sugar for sweetening, and no ovens; the feast lasted several days, not just one. But they are wrong when they imply that this harvest feast had no religious significance, if for the simple reason that to the Pilgrims practically everything had religious significance; besides, the Pilgrims would have understand that the verb “thank” is a transitive verb, and requires an object, one Who is properly thanked for all His merciful Providence.