Thanksgiving after the Fast


We are entering the season of Thanksgiving, here in the United States.

I absolutely love Thanksgiving because there is no clamor over presents. Consumerism is mostly confined to what you buy to cook and eat. Of course, some people have taken their table scapes and home decor to new levels of excess. But, for the most part, it is a holiday about gathering and eating together as family.

Origins of Thanksgiving

When I was a new immigrant, I had to find out the basic origins of this holiday which is rooted in American history. I hesitate to sound too informed, because I am not. However, here is a brief, but not exhaustive explanation.

In 1620, a group of Pilgrims sailed from Plymouth, England, aboard the Mayflower to the New World. They established themselves in a little village in New England. They celebrated their first successful corn harvest in the New World in November 1621. The governor ‘organized a celebratory feast and invited a group of the fledgling colony’s Native American allies.’ Therefore, the time of Thanksgiving in the United States is based on history.

After the Fast

While in its infancy, the participants of Thanksgiving may have fasted prior to the observed celebration. The days of fasting were during difficult or pivotal moments and the days of feasting were a celebration to thank God in times of plenty.

Thanksgiving in its modern form is not a religious holiday.

Thanksgiving grew into a way to give thanks on a national level by way of a declaration of presidents. The holiday is now permanent, with it becoming established as the fourth Thursday in November. There are disputes over the details. Of the history, the origins of Thanksgiving and the treatment of native Americans by the newcomers.

However, here, I am not going to climb into that pit of controversy.

Not Thankful?

There have been recent concerns over higher turkey prices, but here’s the thing. Turkey may not even have been served at the first Thanksgiving meal, in the first place. Turkey, in my opinion, is a dry meat. It is harder to cook than other poultry so maybe chicken is a good alternative.

I want to focus on the origins of harvest and being thankful for the bounty. You see, prosperous society seems to forget about the abundance that is bestowed upon us. It is far too easy to complain about what is not going right. Of what is not available to us than for what is right in front of our eyes. We have grown used to complaining.

Abundance and Luxury of Choice

My point in all of this is, that if we have faced actual famine and fasting prior to a ritual of thanksgiving, we can be grateful for the abundance before us, no matter what form it takes. It is only because of the feeling of entitlement and a sense of rigidity that we complain when things aren’t exactly the way we desire them to be.

But at the end of the day, let us remember that Thanksgiving is also rooted in voluntarism and feeding the poor. Therefore, we have to focus on these aspects of the holiday to properly ground us.


Maybe, ultimately, it is when we do not ‘fast’ a lot that we become demanding of the feast. We may have indulged too much in our recent past. We forget what it feels like to be without and to hunger.

So this year let us just be thankful for the feast. Whatever form it takes.

person serving a food on christmas dinner
Serving a dish for a family feast
Photo by Nicole Michalou on

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