Thanksgiving is more than a day off. It is more than eating mashed potatoes and gravy, watching football, and taking a wonderful turkey-induced nap. Thanksgiving Day, annual national holiday in the United States and Canada celebrating the harvest and other blessings of the past year. The American holiday is particularly rich in legend and symbolism, and the traditional fare of the Thanksgiving meal typically includes turkey, bread stuffing, potatoes, cranberries, and pumpkin pie. With respect to vehicular travel, the holiday is often the busiest of the year, as family members gather with one another.
Today’s Thanksgiving feast has its origins in an English Reformation tradition carried on by the pilgrims who arrived at Plymouth in 1620. In an affront to the Catholic liturgical calendar, Puritans celebrated days of fasting and days of feasting—notably the day of feasting at the end of the fall harvest—in gratitude for God’s provision. In an age where consumption of food is often far removed from fields where it is produced, a growing number of evangelicals have reinterpreted the holiday as a time not only to thank God for abundance, but to examine where abundance comes from and the ethics of food, hunger, and environment.
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