Thanksgiving has always been a day for doing the thing that it is entitled……giving thanks…..
And as usual the Old Professor wants to add some history to your day of rest and good food……
Thanksgiving is a peculiar holiday, at least in the modern world. Its roots are religious, and the American nation is, at least in law, secular. Its very name speaks of thanks, or gratitude, and gratitude is an ancient virtue. Indeed Aristotle speaks highly of it. Even so, or perhaps for that reason, it is very American. In his Thanksgiving address in 1922, President Coolidge called it “perhaps the most characteristic of our national observances.” He was not wrong for, as Chesterton wrote, America is “a nation with the soul of a church,” and Abraham Lincoln called us an “almost chosen people.”
The holiday reminds us, in other words, of the peculiar character of the American nation, and of the President’s role in it. Strictly speaking, to be an American is to be an American citizen. When one calls someone an American, the first definition one usually has in mind is political. By contrast, when one says that someone is Chinese or Turkish, the first thought is of an ethnic or racial identity. Even so, there is an American culture. Hence it is very common to say that something is “very American.” Thanksgiving itself deserves that moniker. Is it a constitutional observance? That’s an open question.
Now that we have had our history lesson of this day…..may you enjoy your day and your food…..