Dr. Swisher is the Thanksgiving Holiday Religious or Secular?    Mason, Toledo

Hi Mason.  Thanks for your question about one of my very favorite Holidays.  I was just telling folks the other day that the way to reach the next level in life is to be thankful and to readily and frequently express gratitude to God and each other.

Thanksgiving has always been a significant Holiday for me personally because my mother’s side of the family are Native American (Powhatan and Mingo) and my father’s side of the family are European   I have always favored the Native peoples because of their tenacity, bravery and welcoming spirit toward the encroaching pilgrims from another land.  Our European ancestors would never have survived without those gracious original Americans.

Our celebration of Thanksgiving is uniquely our own.  As American as it gets.  One of the few holidays that can hold that designation.  It was first celebrated in 1621 by the Pilgrims who settled Plymouth and the Wampanoag Tribe.  The first Thanksgiving meal consisted of Turkey and dressing, pumpkin and apple pies, delicious berries, vegetables of all kinds and the Native Americans introduced something unknown to the Pilgrims.  They roasted corn over a hot fire until they pop, pop, popped into scrumptious white, fluffy morsels....the first popcorn.  This historic Thanksgiving was so successful it lasted 3 days!!

The Pilgrim Governor William Bradford declared at this feast “O God, we are grateful for your unspeakable mercy towards us. Grant good Lord that as our bodies hunger and thirst for this food, so our souls may earnestly long for the food of eternal life through Jesus Christ.”

There you have it, Mason. Thanksgiving is faith based, quintessentially American and one of the best Holidays we have.  Treasure it.  Enjoy it. And join me and our fellow Ohioans in being especially thankful this year.

Dr. Stephen Lowell Swisher