How Shall We Observe Thanksgiving?


Ellen G. White

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It should be noted that proper Thanksgiving celebration is related to the Feast of Weeks in Scripture:


“The Feast of Weeks, also known as Harvest (Exodus 23:16), Shavuot (Hebrew), the Day of Firstfruits (Numbers 28:26), or Pentecost, was a festival of joy and thanksgiving celebrating the completion of the harvest season. It was the second major feast in which all able-bodied Jewish males were required to attend (the other two being Passover and the Feast of Tabernacles). It was celebrated as a sabbath with rest from ordinary labors and the calling of a holy convocation (Leviticus 23:21; Numbers 28:26).”


God have mercy on those who brand such Thanksgivings as God and Ellen White advocate, as pagan traditions of Adventist pioneers! And I am being branded by some fanatics as doing the same thing when I advocate only what God and Ellen White instruct on these matters.


“How Shall We Observe Thanksgiving?--Our Thanksgiving is approaching. Will it be, as it has been in many instances, a thanksgiving to ourselves? Or will it be a thanksgiving to God? Our Thanksgivings may be made seasons of great profit to our own souls as well as to others if we improve this opportunity to remember the poor among us. . . . {AH 474.2}


There are a hundred ways that can be devised to help the poor in so delicate a manner as to make them feel that they are doing us a favor by receiving our gifts and sympathy. We are to remember that it is more blessed to give than to receive. The attentions of our brethren are most liberal to those whom they wish to honor, and whose respect they desire, but who do not need their help at all. Custom and fashion say, Give to those who will give to you; but this is not the Bible rule of giving. The word of God declares against this way of gratifying self in thus bestowing our gifts, and says, "He that giveth to the rich, shall surely come to want." {AH 474.3}


Now a season is coming when we shall have our principles tested. Let us begin to think what we can do for God’s needy ones. We can make them through ourselves the recipients of God’s blessings. Think what widow, what orphan, what poor family you can relieve, not in a way to make a great parade about the matter, but be as a [BEGIN P.475] channel through which the Lord’s substance shall flow as a blessing to His poor. . . . {AH 474.4}


Note: It is far easier for the critical fanatic to denounce Thanksgiving rather than follow the counsel of the Holy Spirit in this important matter, thus they fulfill the design of Satan. End note.


But this does not embrace all your duty. Make an offering to your best Friend; acknowledge His bounties; show your gratitude for His favors; bring a thank offering to God. . . . Brethren and sisters, eat a plain dinner on Thanksgiving Day, and with the money you would spend in extras with which to indulge the appetite, make a thank offering to God. {AH 475.1}


Let not any more Thanksgiving days be observed to please and gratify the appetite and glorify self. We have reason for coming into the courts of the Lord with offerings of gratitude that He has preserved our lives another year. . . . If a feast is to be made, let it be for those who are in need. {AH 475.2}



I think we have something to be thankful for. We ought to be glad and rejoice in God, for He has given us many mercies. . . . We want this Thanksgiving to be all that it implies. Do not let it be perverted, mingled with dross; but let it be what its name implies--giving thanks. Let our voices ascend in praise. {AH 475.3}


Why Not Holidays Unto God?--Would it not be well for us to observe holidays unto God, when we could revive in our minds the memory of His dealing with us? Would it not be well to consider His past blessings, to remember the impressive warnings that have come home to our souls so that we shall not forget God? {AH 475.4}


The world has many holidays, and men become [BEGIN P.476] engrossed with games, with horse races, with gambling, smoking, and drunkenness. . . . {AH 475.5}


Shall not the people of God more frequently have holy convocations in which to thank God for His rich blessings? {AH 476.1}


Note: Does that sound like a pagan custom to you? Yet some are saying that Ellen White taught heathen, pagan tradition in her teachings on Thanksgiving, which are actually patterned (or should be patterned) after the order of the Feast of Weeks. End note.


Holidays Afford Opportunity for Missionary Service.--We want men in the church who have ability to develop in the line of organizing and giving practical work to young men and women in the line of relieving the wants of humanity and working for the salvation of the souls of men, women, youth, and children. It will not be possible for all to give their whole time to the work because of the labor they must do to earn their daily living. Yet these have their holidays and times that they can devote to Christian work and do good in this way if they cannot give much of their means. {AH 476.2}


When you have a holiday, make it a pleasant and happy day for your children, and make it also a pleasant day for the poor and the afflicted. Do not let the day pass without bringing thanksgiving and thank offerings to Jesus.” [BEGIN P.477] {AH 476.3}







[1]White, Ellen Gould: The Adventist Home; Adventist Home. Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1952; 2002, S. 474