Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thanksgiving Day

G. K. Chesterton, in his essay, William Penn and the Puritans of January 24, 1931, in the Illustrated London News begins:
The Americans have established a Thanksgiving Day to celebrate the fact that the Pilgrim Fathers reached America. The English might very well establish another Thanksgiving Day, to celebrate the happy fact that the Pilgrim Fathers left England.
Chesterton speaks of the miserableness of the calvinists, and of the accident of people’s imaginations that a holiday refers to them. Fanciful, fictionalised and sanitised retelling of history, into a shared folklore has benefited, their legacy.

It is good to give thanks, and celebrate a feast. And one can chart good reasons, to do so, and for right rational purpose.

The calvinist attempt, in this celebration, was to replace Christmas and its inherent catholicism. Many americans, christian or no, celebrate this day, and many non-christians are very comfortable in its effective non-religiousness, and especially its adaptability as a non-christian festivity. Thanksgiving is an american, national holiday; it has religious overtones to some, but, essentially, it is not a religious day. It is a civic substitute.

No comments: