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Monday, October 10 2011
Thanksgiving Day is generally regarded as an official holiday observed in North America (although, as we shall see, it's much bigger than that). Canada observes Thanksgiving on the second Monday of October (as it happens, October 10 in 2011 - the publication date of this Bible study), while the U.S. observes Thanksgiving on the fourth Thursday of November. Canada and the U.S. observe Thanksgiving in practically the same way (people from either country could observe Thanksgiving in the other country and feel right at home as they do so - as many do while visiting family and friends during the holiday), but from different origins, that nevertheless grew from a single genesis. The historical reality is that the origins of Thanksgiving are much more profound and ancient than the political existence of, or any mere mythological or propagandistic event that occurred in, either country.
"Thanksgiving in North America had originated from a mix of European and Native traditions. Typically in Europe, festivals were held before and after the harvest cycles to give thanks for a good harvest, and to rejoice together after much hard work with the rest of the community. At the time, Native Americans had also celebrated the end of a harvest season. When Europeans first arrived to the Americas, they brought with them their own harvest festival traditions from Europe, celebrating their safe voyage, peace and good harvest. Though the origins of the holiday in both Canada and the United States are similar, Americans do not typically celebrate the contributions made in Newfoundland, while Canadians do not celebrate the contributions made in Plymouth, Massachusetts." (From the "Thanksgiving" article in Wikipedia, October 9 2011)
Note the specific differences in the origins of the same Thanksgiving observance. In Canada:
"The origins of the first Thanksgiving in Canada goes back to an explorer, Martin Frobisher, who had been trying to find a northern passage to the Pacific Ocean. Frobisher's Thanksgiving celebration was not for harvest, but for homecoming. He had safely returned from an unsuccessful search for the Northwest Passage, avoiding the later fate of Henry Hudson and Sir John Franklin. In the year 1578, Frobisher held a formal ceremony in Newfoundland to give thanks for surviving the long journey. Years later, the tradition of a feast would continue as more settlers began to arrive to the Canadian colonies.
While the U.S. observance of Thanksgiving focuses on the English colonists at Plymouth, those "Pilgrims" observed it because they were already familiar with the principle and the observance of Thanksgiving from long before, in time and place.
"In the United States, the modern Thanksgiving holiday tradition traces its origins to a 1621 celebration at Plymouth in present-day Massachusetts. There is also evidence for an earlier harvest celebration on the continent by Spanish explorers in Florida during 1565, as well as thanksgiving feasts in the Virginia Colony. The initial thanksgiving observance at Virginia in 1619 was prompted by the colonists' leaders on the anniversary of the settlement. The 1621 Plymouth feast and thanksgiving was prompted by a good harvest. In later years, the tradition was continued by civil leaders such as Governor Bradford who planned a thanksgiving celebration and fast in 1623. While initially, the Plymouth colony did not have enough food to feed half of the 102 colonists, the Wampanoag Native Americans helped the Pilgrims by providing seeds and teaching them to fish. The practice of holding an annual harvest festival like this however, did not become a regular affair in New England until the late 1660s.
"Let us sing unto the LORD: let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation. Let us come before His presence with Thanksgiving"
The English word "thank" originated from an Anglo-Saxon word, thanc, which meant to think (in origin, "thank" and "think" are merely different pronunciations of the same word), as in an expression of gratitude. The English term "thanksgiving" was known long before the European colonization of North America began. The King James Version of the Bible, published in 1611, used the already-then well-known term "thanksgiving" for giving thanks to God, as in giving "thinks" to God - acknowledging God's existence and blessings. It's for that reason that the KJV use of "thanksgiving" to translate the original Hebrew word of the Holy Scriptures, pronounced to-daw, is highly appropriate because it means exactly the same - to think, or acknowledge, gratitude to God.
"Thanksgiving" was observed by The First Christian Church, as recorded far back in Leviticus:
"7:11 And this is the law of the sacrifice of peace offerings, which he shall offer unto the LORD. 7:12 If he offer it for a thanksgiving, then he shall offer with the sacrifice of thanksgiving unleavened cakes mingled with oil, and unleavened wafers anointed with oil, and cakes mingled with oil, of fine flour, fried." (Leviticus 7:11-12 KJV)
When the Israelites returned to Jerusalem from their 70-years exile in Babylon, they observed "thanksgiving":
"11:17 And Mattaniah the son of Micha, the son of Zabdi, the son of Asaph, was the principal to begin the thanksgiving in prayer: and Bakbukiah the second among his brethren, and Abda the son of Shammua, the son of Galal, the son of Jeduthun. 11:18 All the Levites in the holy city were two hundred fourscore and four." (Nehemiah 11:17-18 KJV)
King David observed "thanksgiving":
"26:6 I will wash mine hands in innocency: so will I compass thine altar, O LORD: 26:7 That I may publish with the voice of thanksgiving, and tell of all thy wondrous works. 26:8 LORD, I have loved the habitation of thy house, and the place where thine honour dwelleth." (Psalm 26:6-8 KJV)
"Thanksgiving" is also found in the prophecy of the coming Kingdom of God (people who use the term "Gospel" alone aren't uttering the whole term; see The Gospel of The Kingdom of God and What Will Heaven Be Like?) in which all the world will observe the salvation harvest of "thanksgiving":
"51:3 For the LORD shall comfort Zion: he will comfort all her waste places; and he will make her wilderness like Eden, and her desert like the garden of the LORD; joy and gladness shall be found therein, thanksgiving, and the voice of melody. 51:4 Hearken unto me, my people; and give ear unto me, O my nation: for a law shall proceed from me, and I will make my judgment to rest for a light of the people. 51:5 My righteousness is near; my salvation is gone forth, and mine arms shall judge the people; the isles shall wait upon me, and on mine arm shall they trust." (Isaiah 51:3-5 KJV)
The Feast of Tabernacles, an autumn harvest festival of thanksgiving to the LORD is one of the true Christian Holy Days (see Calendar of Christ's Holy Days) and another prophecy of what is described in the verses quoted above from Isaiah:
"23:33 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, 23:34 Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, The fifteenth day of this seventh month shall be the feast of tabernacles for seven days unto the LORD. 23:35 On the first day shall be an holy convocation: ye shall do no servile work therein. 23:36 Seven days ye shall offer an offering made by fire unto the LORD: on the eighth day shall be an holy convocation unto you; and ye shall offer an offering made by fire unto the LORD: it is a solemn assembly; and ye shall do no servile work therein.
This Day In History, October 10
19: Germanicus, Roman general and nephew of emperor Tiberius (the Roman emperor at the time of the ministry of Jesus Christ - see Tiberius and Ancient Empires - Rome), died at age 34 from poisoning. Note that Germanicus, from which the national name Germany is based, was a Roman name (it's no coincidence that the full official name of the Holy Roman Empire was "the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation" - see The Holy Roman Empire).
732: Charles Martel with a force of Frankish infantry repelled an invasion of France by a force of 65,000 Saracens at the Battle of Tours.
1560: Jacob Arminius was born. The Dutch theologian's teachings brought about Arminianism (a doctrine of election based upon God's foreknowledge).
1733: France declared war on Austrian Emperor Charles VI after Augustus III was elected in Poland instead of the French preferred candidate Stanislav Leszczynski.
1780: The Great Hurricane of 1780 killed up to 30,000 people in the Caribbean.
1864: The "Fathers of Confederation" met at the Quebec Conference to discuss the political union of British North America. The 33 delegates from Upper and Lower Canada, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island passed 72 resolutions as an outline to the proposed union; these eventually formed the core of The British North America Act, the original Constitution of Canada.
1877: George Armstrong Custer was reburied at the United States Military Academy at West Point in New York. Custer and 200 men of the U.S. Seventh Cavalry died at the Battle of the Little Bighorn on June 25 of the previous year.
1899: In South Africa, the Boer War began.
1911: The Panama Canal officially opened.
1911: Chinese nationalist leader Sun Yat Sen proclaimed a republic at Wuchang (The Wuchang Uprising) and began the revolution that overthrew the Manchu dynasty.
1918: During the First World War, the German submarine UB-123 sank the Irish mail and passenger boat Leinster in the Irish Sea. Of the over 770 people aboard the ship, over 500 were killed.
1938: Germany completed its occupation of the Sudetenland by taking part of Czechoslovakia. It was one of the acts of aggression by Adolf Hitler (see Presidential Quotes On War, Terrorism, Religion) that resulted in the outbreak of the Second World War in 1939 (listen to our Sermon The European World Wars).
1973: U.S. Vice-president Spiro Agnew pleaded guilty in a Baltimore courtroom to tax evasion and accepting kickbacks. Agnew resigned later that day and was replaced by Gerald Ford, who then later became President after Richard Nixon resigned to avoid prosecution for "Watergate" (Ford was the only man to serve as both Vice-president and President without ever being elected to either office).
1985: U.S. warplanes intercepted an Egyptian civilian airliner and forced it to land in Italy. The commandeering was executed to arrest passengers who had been responsible for the earlier hijacking of the Italian cruise ship Achille Lauro during which elderly wheelchair-bound Jewish-U.S. passenger Leon Klinghoffer was murdered.
1995: Israel began its West Bank pullback and freed hundreds of Palestinian prisoners after a deal with the PLO ("Palestine Liberation Organization").