Part of what makes Thanksgiving so special is that it’s a uniquely American holiday. The history of Thanksgiving dates to the early 1600s and the Berkley Plantation where the first Thanksgiving was celebrated in 1619, twelve years after the founding of the Virginia colony at Jamestown.
The first Thanksgiving featured a modest meal and was a religious celebration, an occasion to thank God. In wasn’t until 1621 that the pilgrims in Massachusetts turned the Thanksgiving meal into a much larger celebration, a banquet.
Our founding fathers understood the importance of giving thanks to our Creator, of acknowledging that our rights comes from God and that as free citizens we have responsibilities to God.
President George Washington, for instance, issued a proclamation during his first year in office calling for a day of “public thanksgiving and prayer.” He wrote, “It is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of God Almighty, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits and humbly implore His protection and favor.”
Washington was wise to direct our young nation to give thanks and to acknowledge our Creator. The practice of giving thanks as a nation helped to establish the religious and moral foundation that makes America great and unique.