The Real First Thanksgiving Feast

November 17, 2013 – Pastor Christopher


Favorite fall festivals/holidays

Thanksgiving – How often have you seen or participated in a reenactment of our first Thanksgiving with the Pilgrims?

Sukkot – The Original Fall Thanksgiving Festival

(Leviticus 23:34-36, 39-43)

Known as the Feast of Tabernacles or Feast of Booths – everyone was commanded of the Lord to come to Jerusalem and set up temporary shelters, sukkoths, or booths with walls of plaited branches and thatched roofs as God instructed.

This weeklong time of feasting and rejoicing begins with a day of rest and worship. It continued as a time of fellowship and rejoicing and ended again with worship.

Festival of Rejoicing
(Five days after Yom Kippur, the most solemn day of the year: Day of sacrifice of atonement.)

Festival of Ingathering (Harvest)

Festival of Remembrance – Total Reliance on Lord!

God’s Deliverance from Slavery in Egypt

God’s Gracious Provision in the Wilderness

Though the people were under judgment, God miraculously provided them with food, kept their clothes from wearing out and their feet from swelling.

Today to fulfill the commandment, sukkoth (booth) is still constructed. It must be made of something that grew from the ground and was cut off, such as tree branches, corn stalks, bamboo reeds, sticks, or two-by-fours and constructed so it will not blow away in the wind. The Sukkoth roof must be left loose, not tied together or tied down. The thatching must be placed sparsely enough that rain can get in, and preferably sparsely enough that the stars can be seen, but not so sparsely that more than ten inches is open at any point or that there is more light than shade.

Sukkot is the origin of our first Thanksgiving. The Pilgrims strove to do all in life according to the Bible. When searching for Biblical precedent for thanksgiving & worship, they saw that God had instituted this in Leviticus. They borrowed from this Biblical ritual to proclaim their own deliverance, reliance upon God and celebration of His provision. The claim of some that this was a pagan ritual brought over from England does not fit with their strict following of the Bible, even for celebration.


We have been delivered, God has provided for us in the midst of hardship; we too should revere God and celebrate together. Community thanksgiving is our tradition, not just family or individual thanksgiving.