Is Thanksgiving Being Replaced?
This year some U.S. retailers are starting their Christmas sales even earlier than Black Friday—now on Thanksgiving Day. Have our priorities changed?
When I was a child, the American Thanksgiving Day was a big event. We were taught in school about the history of the day and to be thankful to God for our blessings. Even television commercials were focused around family togetherness and being thankful.
But times have changed.
Black Friday becoming Black Thursday?
For years the Christmas shopping season “officially” started the day after Thanksgiving in the United States.
The term “Black Friday” got its name from retailers making their largest profits during the holiday season. Profits put retailers “in the black.” Since Friday was the start of the Christmas season, the name “Black Friday” was born.
In recent years some retailers began opening their doors at 7 a.m. on that Friday. Then it was 6 a.m., then 5 a.m. and then midnight.
Now some retailers are beginning their sales at 8 p.m. on Thursday, the same day as Thanksgiving!
What that means is that some employees will have to be at these stores even earlier than that. They won’t have much of a Thanksgiving.
Black Friday is now Black Thursday.
Is Thanksgiving even important anymore?
When President Abraham Lincoln made Thanksgiving a national holiday, he called it “a day of thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the heavens” (quotes from the American Presidency Project).
Thanksgiving was originally intended to draw our attention to God, not ourselves. But today many Americans rush through Thanksgiving so they can go shopping and do the things they want to do. Instead of being thankful for the blessings they have, many believe they deserve and are entitled to them.
This completely different mind-set is not what Thanksgiving is supposed to be all about.
Losing sight of God
Concerning America’s wealth, President Lincoln commented that “no human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God.”
His words sound very similar to what God told the people of Israel more than 3,000 years ago about the blessings Israel’s descendants would receive.
“When you have eaten and are full, then you shall bless the LORD your God for the good land which He has given you. Beware that you do not forget the LORD your God by not keeping His commandments, His judgments, and His statutes which I command you today, lest—when you have eaten and are full, and have built beautiful houses and dwell in them; and when your herds and your flocks multiply, and your silver and gold are multiplied, and all that you have is multiplied; when your heart is lifted up, and you forget the LORD your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt … then you say in your heart, ‘My power and the might of my hand have gained me this wealth’” (Deuteronomy 8:10-17).
For many decades America has been the most blessed nation on earth, and for that we should be thankful to God. But instead of being thankful for what we have, many want to rush out and accumulate more.
“But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come. For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money … unthankful … lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God” (2 Timothy 3:1-4).
“Although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts. And their foolish hearts were darkened” (Romans 1:21).
Americans have forgotten their heritage. Why else would we replace a day set aside for God with a day set aside for greed? Why are we replacing Thanksgiving with Black Thursday?
Because we have forgotten God.
Let’s remember God
Moses, the leader of ancient Israel, wrote about the heritage of Israel. (To explore the connection between ancient Israel and modern nations such as the United States, Australia, Britain and Canada, see “Who Are the United States and Britain in Prophecy?”)
Moses wrote, “Remember the days of old, consider the years of many generations. Ask your father, and he will show you; your elders, and they will tell you” (Deuteronomy 32:7).
Moses goes on to show how God raised up ancient and modern Israel and blessed them so much that they became the greatest people on earth (verses 10-14).
But as the case is today, Moses also wrote that Israel would forget God because of this wealth (verses 15-18).
Then Moses wrote that because Israel forgets God, God will stop helping them and troubles will come upon Israel (verses 19-26).
God even says, “For they are a nation void of council, nor is there any understanding in them. Oh, that they were wise, that they understood this, that they would consider their latter end!” (verses 28-29).
In light of all the troubles the United States has been experiencing over recent years, we should examine the quality of our relationship with God and our gratitude toward Him.
So before America replaces the meaning of Thanksgiving, let’s remember that the day was intended to pay homage to God, not to ourselves.