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Editorial: The Thanksgiving of Our Forefathers

Our forefathers did not merely celebrate Thanksgiving with turkey and going around the table declaring their blessings in celebration of the holiday. Thanksgiving was - and has been - inspired by deep religious traditions of feast time and prayer before and after the Pilgrims set foot on Plymouth Rock in 1620.

Giving thanks to Almighty God was and is rooted in this deep tradition of America. To a great degree, we have forgotten what it is like to have times of plenty and times of famine. The feast time of autumn and the rationing of the harvest in the winter months has largely been forgotten. Instead, we are now fortunate enough to have year-round grocery stores and food delivery.

Thanksgiving was dedicated to a time of plenty when plenty was hard to come by. Through these earlier times of scarcity, when the harvest came, one was thankful for what they had been given and gave credit to God for the miracle of the feast.

Although the holiday is imbued with religious tradition, in modern times when we give thanks, perhaps not as deeply as before, we inadvertently fall short of this significance.


During George Washington’s Thanksgiving Proclamation of 1789, God is referred to nearly a dozen times in a few short paragraphs. In dedication of the holiday, Washington declares:

“Now therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November next to be devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be-- That we may then all unite in rendering unto him our sincere and humble thanks.”


Continuing this later and drawing on the religious roots of the holiday, President Abraham Lincoln declared, in 1863, the tradition which up to that point had been a local holiday, to a national tradition. Lincoln stated that:

“It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.”

We are grateful for our Country, our families, and most importantly our Savior who died for us and our God who provides for us all. Happy Thanksgiving to all and to the community we call home.

The Cougar Chronicle is an independent student-run publication and is not affiliated with Brigham Young University or The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

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