Our Thanksgiving Traditions

We just love Thanksgiving! What a wonderful holiday! Leading up to the day, we teach our children great hymns of Thanksgiving, such as “We Gather Together,”  “Come Ye Thankful People, Come,”  “Count Your Blessings,” and “Now Thank We All Our God.”

We particularly love “We Gather Together,” because it was a Dutch song of the proper time frame – it is quite likely that our Pilgrim forefathers knew it and sang it! We try to make sure our children understand the rich history of our country’s founding. We try to read books about the Pilgrims who settled in Plymouth. It is very encouraging, because they were people we agree with on many different things! They were concerned about living and worshiping as Biblically as possible. They were very concerned that their children be raised in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. In fact, the influences on their children in the Netherlands was one of the deciding factors for beginning a colony in the New World. We love to read the real first hand accounts to our children, especially Of Plymouth Plantation. I really like the Plymouth Set available from Vision Forum, which includes it, and it’s on sale for 25% off right now. In fact, they are having a great sale on tools and toys through tomorrow – up to 50% off!

Another thing we like to do is to put up a Thanksgiving tree. We make a tree trunk out of brown paper and tape it to a wall, then cut out lots of construction paper leaves in fall colors. Each of us writes something we are thankful for on a leaf and tapes it to the tree. We keep on adding more and more until the tree and all the “ground” at the base of it is covered in lovely leaves. What a terrific reminder of how blessed we are!

On Thanksgiving Day, we place five kernels of corn on each plate at the table. When we come together at the table, the youngest child who can read well reads aloud the poem “The Five Kernels of Corn” by Hezekiah Butterworth. It reminds us of the famine our forefathers endured the first couple of years in Plymouth and of their endurance and God’s provision. We thank God for those brave believers who endured all that to leave a goldly heritage for our nation.

Five Kernels of Corn

By Hezekiah Butterworth


‘Twas the year of the famine in Plymouth of old,
The ice and the snow from the thatched roofs had rolled;
Through the warm purple skies steered the geese o’er the seas,
And the woodpeckers tapped in the clocks of the trees;
And the boughs on the slopes to the south winds lay bare,
and dreaming of summer, the buds swelled in the air.
The pale Pilgrims welcomed each reddening morn;
There were left but for rations Five Kernels of Corn.
Five Kernels of Corn!
Five Kernels of Corn!
But to Bradford a feast were Five Kernels of Corn!

“Five Kernels of Corn! Five Kernels of Corn!
Ye people, be glad for Five Kernels of Corn!”
So Bradford cried out on bleak Burial Hill,
And the thin women stood in their doors, white and still.
“Lo, the harbor of Plymouth rolls bright in the Spring,
The maples grow red, and the wood robins sing,
The west wind is blowing, and fading the snow,
And the pleasant pines sing, and arbutuses blow.
Five Kernels of Corn!
Five Kernels of Corn!
To each one be given Five Kernels of Corn!”

O Bradford of Austerfield hast on thy way,
The west winds are blowing o’er Provincetown Bay,
The white avens bloom, but the pine domes are chill,
And new graves have furrowed Precisioners’ Hill!
“Give thanks, all ye people, the warm skies have come,
The hilltops are sunny, and green grows the holm,
And the trumpets of winds, and the white March is gone,
Five Kernels of Corn!
Five Kernels of Corn!
Ye have for Thanksgiving Five Kernels of Corn!

“The raven’s gift eat and be humble and pray,
A new light is breaking and Truth leads your way;
One taper a thousand shall kindle; rejoice
That to you has been given the wilderness voice!”
O Bradford of Austerfield, daring the wave,
And safe through the sounding blasts leading the brave,
Of deeds such as thine was the free nation born,
And the festal world sings the “Five Kernels of Corn.”
Five Kernels of Corn!
Five Kernels of Corn!
The nation gives thanks for Five Kernels of Corn!

To the Thanksgiving Feast bring Five Kernels of Corn!

Sometimes we also read George Washington’s Thanksgiving Proclamation. This year, I believe we will. I’ll post it tomorrow, along with why I think this is a particularly appropriate time to read this proclamation.

Then we pray and thank God for our feast and for all the blessings of the year.

During the meal, our topic of discussion is “The Blessing of God of this year. ” Each person is expected to share at least five things they are thankful for – one for each of the kernels of corn they received. What a happy time it is to enjoy the wonderful food as we think of all our dear Father in heaven has done for us.

This year, in particular, our family has much to be thankful about. We’ll be sharing that on Thanksgiving Day and we hope you’ll join us and rejoice with us!

Peruvian corn picture courtesy of Jenny Mealing, through WikiMedia Commons, no endorsement of our site intended.