If you’re here, it’s likely, you’re interested in the history of the Thanksgiving holiday. You want to know whether or not it’s a holiday you should celebrate, or something you should ignore. In this article, I’ll be answering the question, “Is Thanksgiving a Christian holiday?”.
Do Christians Celebrate Thanksgiving?
Unlike Halloween–where there’s a little more consensus against the holiday–with Thanksgiving most Christian people and churches are happy to celebrate it. Traditionally, people use Thanksgiving as a time to give thanks, to cook big meals, to gather with family, and to invite friends over.
Is Thanksgiving in the Bible?
The Thanksgiving holiday isn’t a celebration you’ll find in the Bible, so it’s not a holiday you’d say is “Christian” per se, however, the concept of giving thanks is consistently recommended in the Bible, so for many Christians the celebration is adopted easily.
What’s the History of Thanksgiving?
The first Thanksgiving was celebrated in 1621, and became a national holiday in the United States during the Civil War.
The Thanksgiving tradition is commemorated because the settlers who came over to America finally were able to gather with Native Americans in peace and fellowship. Due to all of the controversy and hardship they experienced to settle the lands of American and get along with people who had already settled there, they were very grateful when they were able to have peace and decided to give thanks.
I grew up in an American Christian household who celebrated Thanksgiving. We would have big gatherings with friends, family, and church members. We’d laugh and play games, and cook recipes we wouldn’t cook any other time of the year!
In fact, my family would spend nearly a whole day cooking to prepare for Thanksgiving. We had alot of fun with it.
Why Some Christian People are Against Thanksgiving?
There are various reasons why some people don’t celebrate Thanksgiving.
Although Thanksgiving is a holiday my family has enjoyed, I understand how everyone has different convictions. Some denominations teach doctrine against holiday celebrations and gatherings altogether.
1. A Different Interpretation of History
For some people, they read history and have different opinions about what happened in the past. I’ve heard people who say Christopher Columbus was abusive or people who say we shouldn’t celebrate the Native Americans being run away from their land. There are so many ways to interpret history and to take a stand against injustice.
Avoiding holiday celebrations is one way for people to advocate their causes and demonstrate their beliefs.
I agree, we shouldn’t celebrate crime or injustice, however, for most people, the Thanksgiving holiday isn’t a celebration of injustice.
2. Their Interpretation of Idols or What’s Required for Holiness
In Exodus 20:4 of the 10 Commandments, it says:
“You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below.”
For some people, they interpret the “idols” very differently. I’ve seen some people who say idols are like statues that are intended to represent a god, but others interpret “idols” to mean anything that gets a place in our hearts or attention. When you interpret “idols” as anything that takes an important place in our hearts, it can lead you to attempt to get rid of many things (including holidays like Thanksgiving).
For some, they don’t avoid Thanksgiving because of their interpretation of idols, but instead, they just think they can’t live a life of holiness consistent with their convictions when they celebrate Thanksgiving.
3. Their Religious Leaders have Taught them that Way
In Christianity and other religions, people tend to honor what’s said by their leaders. Sometimes, this indoctrination by religious leaders can supercede the biblical requirements, and even become very “cult-like”.
The influence of religious leaders has caused many people to choose not to celebrate holidays, and Thanksgiving is included with that.
4. Their Personal Conviction
When other reasons aren’t present, some people simply don’t celebrate Thanksgiving because of their personal convictions. At times, it doesn’t have anything to do with the holiday or origins. It might be more because they’re concerned about over-eating or gathering with people they don’t like.
It’s a variety of reasons why people may not celebrate Thanksgiving; sometimes, it’s a religious reason and sometimes, it’s not.
It’s really up to each person to read their Bibles, pray, and trust what God’s saying to them.
There’s no one-size-fits-all when it comes to decision-making (especially when there’s a topic that’s not specifically addressed in the Bible).
I’d recommend that if you’re feeling discomfort with celebrating Thanksgiving, you pray and seek God. Consider sitting out if you’re feeling discomfort. Explore Thanksgiving alternatives, and see if you feel less convicted if you simply modify your Thanksgiving traditions.
Ultimately, you want to approach holidays and life in a way that makes you feel most aligned with God.
If you’d like to learn more about living life by God’s design, get started with the By God’s Design Manifesto here.