The Theology of Thanksgiving

Here’s an article I wrote for Crisis Magazine website a few years ago. I forgot that I’d written it, and it popped up on Catholic Exchange today. I suppose that’s one of the good things about writing on the Catholic faith. The articles don’t go out of date.

The article explores the theological and historical roots of our American Thanksgiving celebration, and its no surprise that the whole thing has its roots in Catholicism

Then five years ago, through one of God’s practical jokes, I came back to South Carolina with my English wife and English-sounding kids to be a Catholic priest. Along with learning to live in the suburbs and shop at the mall, and spend hours in the car, and have far too much of far too many good things, we also learned to celebrate Thanksgiving. I, of course, still knew all the rituals, and was able to share them with my family, and now back in my homeland I’m delighted to eat turkey twice within weeks, for we now celebrate both American Thanksgiving and English Christmas.

This personal resurrection of Thanksgiving has caused me to examine again the roots of the tradition, and while I know all about Pilgrims and the Mayflower and the kindly Indians and cranberries and sweet potatoes and turkeys and corn and pumpkin pie, I’m more fascinated by the deeper history of Thanksgiving feasts, for the Protestant idea of a feast for thanksgiving has roots that are deeper than they knew.

Go here to read the whole article.