Why do Christians celebrate thanksgiving?

Why do Christians celebrate thanksgiving?

For a lot of people, Thanksgiving does not mean what it used to mean. Celebrated in the United States on the fourth Thursday of November, Thanksgiving is a national holiday when people travel home to have a big meal of turkey, mashed potatoes, pumpkin pie and more. It is a time when families get together and enjoy being together. And for some Americans, that’s all it is – a day off from work, lots of food and fun, and watching American football on TV. But for Christians, Thanksgiving is much more than that.

Remembering God’s blessings

But for those who trust in Christ, they remember that the family and food they enjoy did not come to them by their own work alone.

The Thanksgiving holiday has been celebrated on and off in the United States since 1789 and President Abraham Lincoln made it a regular national holiday in 1863. The reason for the holiday is to remember God’s blessings, especially God’s provision and care for the Pilgrims, the first European settlers in America. Arriving from England in 1620, this group of Christians was seeking a land to make a new life for themselves where they could worship God in freedom. However, they arrived in North America too late to plant food for the harvest and they had little food to eat during their first cold, snowy winter in the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Many of them died during that winter, but in the spring time local Native American Indians helped them plant corn, beans, and squash. When it came time for the harvest, the Pilgrims had an abundance of food. There was plenty to eat and they invited their new friends, local Native American Indians, to celebrate with them. They had a big feast and praised God for helping them survive the winter and for providing new friends and abundant food. They had enduring much suffering, but now was a time to rejoice and be glad. They had not survived by themselves, but they had help from God Almighty who had brought them to this new land to worship Him in spirit and truth.

For Christians in the United States today, Thanksgiving Day is not only a time for food and family, but it is also a time to thank God for His good provision and care for them, just as He cared for the original American settlers. Not all Americans are Christians anymore and many people don’t thank God on Thanksgiving Day. But for those who trust in Christ, they remember that the family and food they enjoy did not come to them by their own work alone. All the blessings they have are blessings from above. God is our creator and provider, and it is right and good to thank Him regularly for all that He gives us, as the Bible says, “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 5:18)

Let us be thankful

Thanksgiving may be an official holiday in the United States, but you don’t need to be in a particular country to give thanks to God. God made all peoples and all lands, and people everywhere can give thanks and even have special days and celebrations to remember what God has done. Let us be thankful, then, not only on Thanksgiving but all year long, in all places!

How does this article speak to you? Please share your thoughts below!

Also read How can you practice a life of thankfulness?

Karl Dahlfred

Karl Dahlfred has served as a missionary in Thailand with OMF International since 2006, working in the areas of church planting, theological education, and publishing. From 2012-2016, he taught church history and missions at Bangkok Bible Seminary, assisted in editing and translation of Thai Christian books at OMF Publishers Thailand, and was a founding elder of Grace City Church, Bangkok. In 2017, he began a Ph.D in World Christianity at the University of Edinburgh. Karl earned a Masters of Divinity (M.Div) at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and a Master of Theology (Th.M) at Talbot School of Theology, Biola University. He is an ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA). Karl is married and has three children. His blog and list of published work may be found at

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