As Canada celebrates Thanksgiving today, we are privileged to introduce Avery Foley, who is not only one of our gifted writers at Answers in Genesis, but a lady who has her roots firmly planted in Canada. Happy Thanksgiving from the Answers Worldwide team to all of our Canadian readers! We pray you’re encouraged by this guest post from Avery:
Happy Thanksgiving! Today, the second Monday of October, is Thanksgiving Day in my home country of Canada. Amid the turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, squash, and pumpkin pie, it is important that we take concentrated time to remember God’s goodness to us and the blessings that He was so graciously lavished upon us.
Everyone knows the story of the first American Thanksgiving; thankful pilgrims in Plymouth, Massachusetts, had a feast to thank God for His blessings and a bountiful harvest. But few people know the story of how America’s northern neighbors acquired the Thanksgiving tradition. The first formal Thanksgiving celebration in North America was held in Newfoundland, Canada in 1578—more than 40 years before the feast in Plymouth! English explorer Sir Martin Frobisher and his crew held a celebration in which they thanked God for “their strange and miraculous deliverance from those so dangerous places.” Setting aside time to thank God became an annual tradition but, unlike in the United States, the theme of the thanks being given often changed. Some years it was to thank God for an abundant harvest, but often it was for something else such as the end of a cholera outbreak (1833), the Prince of Wales’s recovery from illness (1872), the end of the Seven Years War (1763) when the French ceded Canada to the British, or the end of the war between France and England (1816). At the time of the American Revolution, fleeing Loyalists brought American traditions to Canada—such as turkey, squash, and pumpkin pie—and those things were soon integrated into Canada’s Thanksgiving celebrations. In 1879 a day was officially set aside for a time of general thanksgiving but the date jumped around for a few years until, finally, in 1957 Parliament declared "a Day of General Thanksgiving to Almighty God for the bountiful harvest with which Canada has been blessed—to be observed on the 2nd Monday of October.”
From its beginning, Thanksgiving has been about thanking God for His many blessings whether that be health, safety, food, or peace. Scripture is filled with reminders to give thanks to the Lord: “Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving” (Psalm 95:2), “Enter His gates with thanksgiving, And into His courts with praise” (Psalm 100:4), “in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Thessalonians 5:18). We live in a culture that almost prides itself in taking God’s name out of everything. This shows most often at Christmas when retailers put up cheerful signs of “Seasons Greetings” or “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas,” or at Easter when the focus is on chocolate and bunnies instead of Christ’s Resurrection. Of course, this is a direct representation of the difference between the world and the church. While we see this so prominently during Christmas, we are less apt to notice this neglect at Thanksgiving. This holiday was originally a day set aside to thank “Almighty God” for His goodness to us but now Thanksgiving is simply a day off work where we eat way too much, watch Canadian football (or hockey, which is even better!), and spend time with our families. Of course, we might stick an “everyone say one thing you are thankful for” and a quick prayer in before the meal, but the focus on God as the giver of everything we have has largely been lost. This Thanksgiving I encourage you to go back to the original purpose of the holiday—a day “of General Thanksgiving to Almighty God for the bountiful harvest with which Canada has been blessed.” We have so much to thank our God and Father for! Not only has He blessed us materially with everything we have, but, more importantly, He has “blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ” (Ephesians 1:3). The free gift of salvation because of Christ’ssacrificial death and Resurrection is the greatest gift we could ever receive. This Thanksgiving, make thanksgiving to our God—not the turkey, pumpkin pie, and football—the focus of your day.
Thankful for you,
Avery Foley has a BS in religion from Liberty University and is working on a master of arts in theological studies from Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary. She is originally from Ontario, Canada and writes for Answers in Genesis–US.
Thank you, Avery. Answers Worldwide would like to add that we are thankful for the opportunity to encourage the church in Canada with this great gospel that we are all thankful for. Moreover, we are looking forward to continual teaching in Canada as we help our brothers and sisters to defend the authority of God’s Word from the very first verse and to point other Canadians to the hope that they too can have in Jesus Christ.
Thank you for joining us as we equip the church for the global mission of the gospel.