Christian or Not, Tradition Takes Over on Thanksgiving

November 22, 2006

Author: Anna Scianna

Source: Missourian

Because Thanksgiving originated with a group of religious separatists, known as Pilgrims, Christian values are often attached to the holiday. But while people of other religious beliefs and cultures often celebrate Thanksgiving in the traditional way, the holiday can look, and even taste, a little different.

Mark Stannard will observe his first Thanksgiving since embracing the Baha’i faith. While Stannard’s Thanksgiving customs have not changed, faith will play a more prominent role this year. Giving thanks is an everyday event for people of the Baha’i faith, he said, and Thanksgiving is an occasion to place special emphasis on that.

“This year is the first time that I’ve really thought of it in a spiritual way,” said Stannard, who helped plan Tuesday’s Interfaith Thanksgiving Service at the Lenoir Senior Center. “It’s caused me to think of Thanksgiving in a deeper way.”

Jim Krueger, of Congregation Beth Shalom, Columbia’s synagogue, said Thanksgiving has less religious significance and greater cultural meaning for Jews. Families may start the meal with bread and wine, a Jewish blessing, but the celebration is a time to be thankful and to remember American history.

“We get together and eat food and watch football,” Krueger said. “This is a typical American Jew’s Thanksgiving. This is a typical American Thanksgiving.”