thanksgiving trivia          

Here are the answers and some comments to our USA Thanksgiving Day Trivia Quiz. How well did you do?

1.            The Netherlands celebrate Thanksgiving on the same date as the U.S. TRUE

According to Wikipedia: Many of the Pilgrims who migrated to the Plymouth Plantation had resided in the city of Leiden from 1609–1620, many of whom had recorded their births, marriages and deaths at the Pieterskerk. To commemorate this, a non-denominational Thanksgiving Day service is held each year on the morning of the American Thanksgiving Day in the Pieterskerk, a Gothic church in Leiden, to commemorate the hospitality the Pilgrims received in Leiden on their way to the New World.[35] [See article cited in]There are also other countries that officially celebrate their own tradition of Thanksgiving:  Argentina, Brazil, Canada2, Japan, Korea, Liberia, and Switzerland.

[See article by Mary Fairchild cited in]

2.            Puritan Separatists, known as Pilgrims, were Baptists. FALSE

The Puritan Separatists or Pilgrims were essentially Calvinists, influenced by the teachings of John Calvin. They were English Protestants who wanted to “purify” the Anglican Church of its Roman Catholic influence. [See article by Jack Zavada cited in Pilgrims-Religion.htm]

3.            The Pilgrims, who believed in the literal translation of the King James Bible, taught that                 they should give thanks in all things. FALSE

The Pilgrims used the Geneva Bible. The New Testament was first produced in English in 1557 and was originally a revised version of Tyndale’s 1534 edition. Much of the work was done by William Whittingham who was the brother-in-law of John Calvin. King James I of England did not approve of the Geneva Bible due to differences with the Calvinist doctrines that were held by the Pilgrims. He authorized the King James Version of the Bible  (published in 1611) due in part to these differences. King James also considered some of the marginal notes in the Geneva Bible concerning references to disobeying the king’s commands as a political threat to his kingdom. [Gary DeMar cited in]

4.            The Pilgrims received aid from Queen Elizabeth I to travel to America to establish a                             colony. FALSE           

The Pilgrims were first persecuted during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I (1558-1603). Her aim was to wipe out any opposition to the Church of England, also known as the Anglican Church. After her death, James I succeeded her on the throne. His intolerance toward the Pilgrims led them to escape to Holland where they found religious freedom. [Jack Zavada, op. cit.]

5.            The Pilgrims came over on the Mayflower from Holland. TRUE

In 1609, the Pilgrims fled persecution in England and settled in Holland. According to one source,  “After a few years their children were speaking Dutch and had become attached to the Dutch way of life. This worried the Pilgrims. They considered the Dutch frivolous and their ideas a threat to their children’s education and morality. So they decided to leave Holland and travel to the New World. Their trip was financed by a group of English investors, the Merchant Adventurers”. []

The Mayflower

The Mayflower

6.            The Plymouth Indians, led by Chief Wahoo, showed the Pilgrims how to fish & grow
                crops. FALSE

Chief Wahoo is a logo of the Cleveland Indians baseball organization. Furthermore, there was no such group known as the Plymouth Indians. Plymouth, Massachusetts, is where the Pilgrims landed in 1620. One of the first Native Americans who greeted the Pilgrims was Samoset, an Abnaki Indian. He had learned English from the captains of fishing boats that had sailed off the coast. After staying the night Samoset left the next day (ibid). He was visiting with the Wampanoag Nation Chieftain, Massasoit. Wikipedia reports that, On March 22, 1621 the Abenaki sagamore, Samoset, who was visiting Wampanoag Chief Massasoit, introduced Squanto [known also as Tisquantum] to the Plymouth colonists near the site of his former village.” [Note: Squanto was a member of the Patuxet tribe, a tributary of the Wampanoag Confederacy.] Wikipedia goes on to report, “It is a commonly held belief that he helped them recover from an extremely harsh first winter by teaching them the native method of maize cultivation. This story claimed a method that used local fish (menhaden) to fertilize crops. He is commonly thought to have taught the colonists how to catch the menhaden necessary to fertilize maize in the native fashion along with the methods by which they could catch eels and other local wildlife for food.”

7.            At least 90 Indians and their chief joined with the Pilgrims for a huge feast at the first
                Thanksgiving in 1621. TRUE

While it is true that the Indians assisted the Pilgrims after a harsh winter in 1620, it is argued that the actual survival of the Pilgrims is attributed to changing to a system known today as capitalism. At first, they formed a communal system called “free-riding.” They had no property rights and no financial stake in the fruit of their labour. Instead, everything they produced went into a common pool which was supposed to be used to support the colony and the Virginia Company. As a result, working harder and longer was no longer of benefit to them and they became lazy. It was decided that each one would become responsible for his own property. Soon, they discovered that property rights made them more productive and eager to work. As a result, the Indians came and traded with them and they were able to grow the food they needed to prosper. This led to the first Thanksgiving they celebrated with the Indians in the autumn of 1621. [See ch_3_how_capitalism_saved_the_pilgrims.pdf]

The First Thanksgiving, Autumn, 1621

The First Thanksgiving, Autumn, 1621

8.            The purpose of the first Thanksgiving, which lasted for 3 days, was to give the 
                Pilgrims some time off from work after a busy harvest and to enjoy a turkey feast with
                some friendly Indians. FALSE.

Thanksgiving began as a time to celebrate the harvest of the year. Credit for their abundance was given to God, not only for the food but especially for God revealing a better way than the communal system they were following. As Governor Bradford noted, “God in His wisdom saw another course fitter for them,” that being private property and entrepreneurship (ibid.). By the way, records show that the menu was primarily wild water fowl (such as goose or duck), corn in grain form for bread and porridge, and venison. Wild turkey is also said to be in abundance at that time, too. There were 90 Wampanoag Indians and around 53 Pilgrims reportedly present.

9.            President Franklin Roosevelt established the fourth Thursday in November as
                Thanksgiving Day. TRUE

Here is a timeline of Thanksgiving in America:
1541 – Spanish explorer, Francisco Vasquez de Coronado, led a thanksgiving Communion7 celebration at the Palo Duro Canyon, West Texas. • 1565 – Pedro Menendez de Aviles and 800 settlers gathered for a meal with the Timucuan Indians in the Spanish colony of St. Augustine, Florida.
• 1621 – Pilgrims and Native Americans celebrated a harvest feast in Plymouth, Massachusetts.
• 1630 – Settlers observed the first Thanksgiving of the Massachusetts Bay Colony in New England on July 8, 1630.
• 1777 – George Washington and his army on the way to Valley Forge, stopped in blistering weather in open fields to observe the first Thanksgiving of the new United States of America.
• 1789 – President Washington declared November 26, 1789, as a national day of “thanksgiving and prayer.”
• 1800s – The annual presidential thanksgiving proclamations ceased for 45 years in the early 1800s.
• 1863 – President Abraham Lincoln resumed the tradition of Thanksgiving proclamations in 1863. Since this date, Thanksgiving has been observed annually in the United States.
• 1941 – President Roosevelt established the fourth Thursday in November as Thanksgiving Day. [Mary Fairchild, op. cit.]

10.          Thanksgiving Day is a Christian holiday. FALSE

Although Christians celebrate Thanksgiving Day, it is established in the U.S. as a national holiday. The Pilgrims did recognize God and his blessings on the first Thanksgiving. Jack Zavada writes, “In a letter about the celebration, Pilgrim Edward Winslow said, ‘And although it be not always so plentiful as it was at this time with us, yet by the goodness of God, we are so far from want that we often wish you partakers of our plenty.’” (op. cit.) However, the Pilgrims never repeated the first Thanksgiving as an annual event. Thanksgiving was declared a national holiday in 1863 by President Abraham Lincoln during a bloody Civil War. Interestingly, the current date and time of the Thanksgiving Holiday was officially set just after the U.S. entered the Second World War when Franklin Roosevelt was president. It was never officially designated a “Christian” holiday. Moreover, neither do the scriptures require us to celebrate this as a holiday.

Having said this, however, the giving of thanks is of Biblical importance. Of the feasts Israel was to commemorate, one of them is called, “The Feast of Tabernacles.” This was established as a Thanksgiving feast to remind the people of God’s blessings when he led them out of Egyptian slavery via the wilderness and brought them to the Promised Land. During this holy day, they were to build small booths to remember the years they lived in the wilderness. The celebration takes place during the fall harvest when God’s people thank him for providing food from their gardens. (See Leviticus 23:33-44; Numbers 29:12-39; Deuteronomy 16:13; Nehemiah 8:1-18.)

The Book of Psalms is chock full of songs of thanksgiving recognizing God’s grace for the people of Israel and his wonderful deeds (For example, Psalm 30, 95; 100; 111; 118).

In the New Testament, we find many admonitions for the church to give thanks to God through prayer and worship. For example,

  • “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).
  • “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God” (Philippians 4:6).
  • “Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men” (1 Timothy 2:1).
  • “And by their prayer for you, which long after you for the exceeding grace of God in you. Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift” (2 Corinthians 9:14-15.)

Whether it be the American Thanksgiving Day, or the Canadian Thanksgiving Day (second Monday of October), this is a good time to remind ourselves that we ought to give thanks everyday for God’s many blessings. For, being thankful brings positive results in our daily lives (Phil 4:6-7).

As strangers and pilgrims in this present age, we are also reminded to give thanks for the hope we have in God’s coming Kingdom on this earth (2 Peter 2:11-12).

Good News to You!
Pastor Michael

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