Is Thanksgiving Only

For . . . . . . Turkeys?

Some brethren have raised the question as to whether or not it is right to observe the USA's Thanksgiving holiday. Is it a day honoring the Eternal? Is it a human holiday with little religious significance? Is it "Pagan"?

The holiday has not been observed by most believers through history, and most brethren out of the USA do not observe it now. There is no requirement to observe it; we should not judge anyone who chooses not to observe it.

The Eternal gave festivals related to crop harvests (Ex 23:16), so the idea of having a festival to thank the Eternal for good crops is not wrong. The major reason for Thanksgiving is to thank the Eternal for plenty to eat: we are commanded to do this (Deut 8:10). Some Pagan elements may have been originally a part of the first Thanksgiving, or they may have crept in to later practice. We should avoid those as we are commanded not to worship our Father with Pagan worship practices, but we need not refrain from correct worship practices just because the Pagans use them, too.

Our Savior participated in the Feast of Dedication or Hannukah (John 10:22), a Festival of thanks to the Eternal that is not specifically commanded in the Bible. Candles are lit in this ceremony. Pagans light candles in their ceremonies. But our Messiah was not afraid to be in the temple at this time; He used it to speak an important message. Likewise, today, we can use Thanksgiving to let our light shine and show our faith in the Eternal and our thanks for His blessings.

From 1 Corinthians 8 we learn that it is acceptable to eat meat offered to idols provided that it does not offend brethren who are weak. There is nothing wrong with using something that a Pagan touched (and the Pagans have touched Thanksgiving), as long as we do not participate in the Pagan practices. With holidays such as Christmas and Easter, the day is wrong, the purpose is wrong, and nearly all of the practices are wrong—there is nothing for a converted person to do. With Thanksgiving, the purpose is right, the day is irrelevant (we give thanks for our country in general, not to idolize the First Thanksgiving) and the significant practices (cooking and eating) are good.

If your conscience does not let you keep Thanksgiving, or if there are people who would be offended by you doing it, then please do not keep it (Rom 14:23). But, do not condemn those who do. And those who do keep it must not condemn those who do not. We should still be able to treat each other as brethren. We are to be recognized as His disciples by our love for one another, not by our precise adherence to a specific set of practices (John 13:35, Rom 14:1-8). —Norman S. Edwards

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