What Thanksgiving Day Means to Christians

Thanksgiving Day marks an annual celebration of family, food, football. But for Christians, Thanksgiving has a much deeper meaning that goes to the core of their spiritual beliefs.

The Bible has many references to the act of giving thanks and how it should be approached. The ultimate display of thanksgiving should be in reverence to God for all of His blessings to mankind through His son Jesus Christ. Believers should keep God at the forefront of their holiday festivities as they acknowledge their faith within the context of holiday celebrations.

What is Thanksgiving?

Thanksgiving is a national holiday in the United States, celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November. It originated as a harvest festival. Thanksgiving has been celebrated nationally on and off since 1789, with a proclamation by George Washington after a request by Congress. (via Wikipedia)

When is Thanksgiving Day?

Thanksgiving Date 2020 – 2025

  • Thursday, November 26, 2020
  • Thursday, November 25, 2021
  • Thursday, November 24, 2022
  • Thursday, November 23, 2023
  • Thursday, November 28, 2024
  • Thursday, November 27, 2025

Thanksgiving History

Traditionally, Thanksgiving Day was celebrated on the last Thursday of November. However, in 1941, a United States Congressional declaration officially designated the fourth Thursday of November as the date of the Thanksgiving holiday.

Although the date, time, and place of the first Thanksgiving celebration are unknown, the origins of America’s Thanksgiving holiday stretch back to 1621. Historians believe that the earliest celebrations took place sometime between September 21 and November 9.

Like many holidays it has also developed many secular expressions, but there is evidence that Thanksgiving Day was traditionally a Christian holiday. Even the early Pilgrims used the celebration in part to give thanks to God for His blessings.

Christian Thanksgiving Ideas

We’ve all heard the famous adage, actions speak louder than words. No other time does this ring truer than during the holiday season. This makes it a perfect time to encourage your church, ministry, and family to put their faith into action to help the less fortunate and renew your spiritual connection to God.

Try these actions during the holiday blitz to keep you and yours grounded in Jesus Christ:

Fast before the big day.

Only the most disciplined believers will be able to resist the smell of roasted turkey on Thanksgiving Day. Try scheduling a fast prior to Thanksgiving that will renew your mind and spirit. As a family, fast from something that you typically take for granted.

Since you know that you’ll eat well on Thanksgiving Day, deny yourself fatty foods and desserts during the week before the holiday. Reject your carnal desires to increase your spiritual life. Each day give God thanks for the ability to eat junk and the desire to not indulge. This practice will certainly increase your thankfulness at the dinner table on Thanksgiving Day.

Donate personal items to a local charity.

If God has blessed your family with an abundance of material possessions, a great way to put thanksgiving into action is to donate some of those things to the less fortunate among us.

We’re not suggesting that you give away diamonds and pearls, but if you know that your family has been blessed allow yourself to be a blessing to others. You can do this by donating food, clothes, or even toys that your kids no longer enjoy. These small items can become a huge blessing that restores someone’s faith in God.

19 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.”

Matthew 6:19-20 New International Version (NIV)

Serve at a local homeless shelter or soup kitchen.

Being a helper to the less fortunate is one of the greatest lessons that we can teach our children. This theme is emphasized throughout the Christian faith.

Prior to Thanksgiving, take your children or youth group to a mission where they can serve the poor and homeless. This experience will demonstrate to the youth that they have much to be grateful for on Thanksgiving Day.

Have each family member contribute to the meal.

Put your gratitude into action by contributing to the Thanksgiving dinner. This should consist of dishes and desserts created with love and it will strengthen your familial bond. Allow young children to help with meal preparation while older children are challenged with this responsibility. Take great enjoyment in this teaching moment.

Be an example of thanksgiving and gratitude.

The best way to teach your friends and family about the Christian meaning of thanksgiving is to be a living example that they see. Unfortunately, we only get to see certain people around the holidays, but that makes it a great opportunity for them to see the love of Christ in your life.

Allow others to see you serve. Become a vessel for God to shine through you. By your example, others will see what it means to have a true relationship with God and in return produce fruits of thanksgiving on their own.

Bible Thanksgiving Quotes

Psalm 7:17 

I will give to the Lord the thanks due to his righteousness, and I will sing praise to the name of the Lord, the Most High.

Psalm 69:30 

I will praise the name of God with a song; I will magnify him with thanksgiving.

2 Corinthians 9:15 

Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift!

1 Timothy 2:1 

First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people,

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

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