See if you can answer these 10 questions about Thanksgiving, or try them out with friends and family.
- Which countries celebrate Thanksgiving as a national holiday?
Harvest festivals spanning cultures and continents have been celebrated over the millennia, however, the only countries celebrating thanksgiving as a formal national holiday are the United States, Canada, Brazil, Grenada, Saint Lucia, and Liberia.
- In which Old Testament books would you find the Biblical origins of thanksgiving?
Exodus 34:22 commands the Israelites to observe the first fruits of wheat harvest, and the festival of ingathering. Thanksgiving is emphasised in many other Old Testament books, including Leviticus, Chronicles and Psalms.
- Name some New Testament books where you would you find strong encouragement for thanksgiving
The Old Testament emphasis on thanksgiving for God’s provision continues into the New Testament. See for example Ephesians 5:20, 1 Thessalonians 5:18; Philippians 4:6; Colossians 3:17; and 2 Corinthians 4:15.
- How and when did thanksgiving rise to prominence in England?
In the 1500s there were 95 holidays in the Catholic calendar in England. During the Protestant Reformation, Puritans wanted to simplify and reduce this holiday extravagance to just two kinds: Days of Fasting in response to disaster (e.g. drought, flood and fire), and Days of Thanksgiving (in times of plenty) for special blessings from God.
- How did Thanksgiving get to English-speaking territories in North America?
Puritans (English Protestants) emigrated to New England in the 1620s and 1630s, bringing with them the tradition of Days of Fasting and Days of Thanksgiving.
- When was the first thanksgiving in North America?
Not all historians are in agreement on this question.
- Long before the arrival of European settlers, Native American tribes had long celebrated the Earth’s abundance, including the autumn harvest.
- In 1565, the Spanish explorer Pedro Menéndez de Avilé landed in Florida and invited members of the local Timucua tribe to a dinner after holding a mass to thank God for his crew’s safe arrival.
- In 1619, 38 English settlers arrived in Virginia and celebrated “the day of our ships arrival [in] Virginia [which] shall be…perpetually kept holy as a day of thanksgiving to Almighty God”.
- In 1621, the surviving Mayflower colonists shared an autumn harvest feast and a three-day thanksgiving festival with Wampanoag Native Americans at Plymouth, Massachusetts. (The classic American Thanksgiving tradition stems largely from this 1621 festival in Plymouth.) Cordial relationships between the settlers and the Wampanoag lasted over 50 years until eventually war broke out in 1675.
- Which American president proclaimed the first nationwide thanksgiving celebration?
After the War of Independence and the ratification of the US Constitution, President George Washington proclaimed the first nationwide thanksgiving celebration in America on November 26, 1789, “as a day of public thanksgiving and prayer, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favours of Almighty God”.
- Which American president proclaimed Thanksgiving for all states?
Before Lincoln, the date for observing Thanksgiving varied from state to state, and Thanksgiving was hardly celebrated in the American South. President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed thanksgiving for all states in a proclamation in 1863 in light of the Civil War, when the president entreated all Americans to ask God to “commend to his tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife” and to “heal the wounds of the nation.” Lincoln scheduled Thanksgiving for the last Thursday in November.
- How did the Great Depression impact Thanksgiving?
In 1939, President Franklin D. Roosevelt moved the Thanksgiving holiday to the third week in November in an attempt to extend the Christmas shopping season (which begins with the Thanksgiving holiday), in order to boost retail sales during the Great Depression.
- Which American president made thanksgiving the fourth Thursday in November?
Because moving the Thanksgiving holiday to the third week in November was not well received, on December 26, 1941, President Roosevelt signed a resolution of Congress making Thanksgiving Day the fourth Thursday in November (which is not always the last Thursday of November). The fourth Thursday in November is when thanksgiving is celebrated to this day.
So, how did you do on this Thanksgiving Quiz?
- If you answered 7 or more questions correctly, you get the pick of the Thanksgiving turkey.
- Just bread and water for you if you got none right! 😉
- Brittanica.com. See https://www.britannica.com/topic/Thanksgiving-Day
- History.com. See https://www.history.com/topics/thanksgiving/history-of-thanksgiving
- Wikipedia. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thanksgiving