The Real First Thanksgiving

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The Pilgrims and Native Americans were onto something with this whole giving thanks thing. But they were by no means the first to do it.

It was actually a common practice by many of the Native Americans already. They would give thanks every year for the harvest – the food that sustained them for the year. And it seems something similar can be found in just about every culture.

When they worked the earth all year and in return received crops, they recognized that they could not have done it alone. They knew deep down that the crops they received – the very food that made life possible – did not come entirely by their own merits. It was obvious that a greater power had a hand in it all. And for that, they should be thankful. And they were.

Sadly, our culture is increasingly less aware of this greater power. Because of this we often naively attribute all of our greatness to our own merits – as a society and as individuals. That’s why the Thanksgiving holiday serves as a great reminder for us.

But Jesus held his own type of thanksgiving celebration a long, long time ago. We call it the Last Supper, the mass.

While the Thanksgiving holiday gives thanks for the harvest – our physical nourishment, the Mass gives thanks for Jesus Christ – our spiritual nourishment.

In fact, the word “Eucharist” (what we celebrate in the Mass) comes from the Greek word “eucharistia,” which means “Thanksgiving.” The mass is a celebration of thanksgiving. And in it we give thanks for Jesus Christ, the food of eternal life.

That’s why we celebrate it everyday, of every year, in every place around the world. And while it does indeed involve food, drink, and is sometimes followed by an afternoon of watching football, it is the most important kind of thanks we can give. Happy Thanksgiving.

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Becky November 28, 2008 at 9:20 am

I hope the Warners had a blessed Thanksgiving!

While I was at mass yesterday it struck me too how it’s so fitting that Eucharist means ‘thanksgiving’.

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