As part of my theology study, I had to do homestay research on various churches and denominations. One of the most intriguing ones was my time with a Mennonite community during the Thanksgiving period. It was an eye-opening experience that taught me much about the church’s holiday traditions. Since I now teach theology, I love educating my students on Mennonite culture. Recently, I asked them what they knew about Mennonites and Thanksgiving. Unsurprisingly, no one knew whether Mennonites celebrate Thanksgiving Day, but luckily, I was fully equipped to tell them all the right information. So, do Mennonites celebrate Thanksgiving?
Yes! Mennonites celebrate Thanksgiving. For Mennonites in areas such as North America, Thanksgiving is an important holiday to be grateful for all that God has blessed them with, including their family and friends. During Thanking, Mennonites make merry by coming together, enjoying good food, and engaging in various entertainment activities like song and dance.
Come with me in this article as I look at Mennonite Thanksgiving festivities. You will find out the Mennonite beliefs around the holiday, what they do to celebrate, and what food they prepare. I will also discuss other common Mennonite holidays, so don’t miss out because the Mennonite Thanksgiving culture will give you a pleasant surprise.
Do Mennonites Believe That Jesus Was Born in December?
Yes, Mennonites believe that Jesus was born in December. Like many other Christian denominations, these Anabaptists believe that Jesus was indeed born in December and, therefore, join in the celebration of Christmas on the 25th day of the month. Mennonites also believe that Jesus Christ was born into the world to bring salvation and that He is only the Son of God. Christmas is, therefore, a big holiday for Mennonites, and they typically celebrate it over several days.
What Do Mennonites Think About Thanksgiving?
It is believed that Mennonites, especially North American ones, cherish Thanksgiving as an important holiday for gratitude, reconciliation, and grace. Even though Mennonites are considered some of the most conservative Christians, they do not shun the Thanksgiving holiday as many would assume. Katerina Friesen, a Mennonite pastor, explains that to their Church, Thanksgiving is a great time for reflection and reconciliation. It is a community get-together for family and friends. She also points out that Mennonites need to reflect on the plight of indigenous people during the holiday.
What Does Mennonite Thanksgiving Look Like?
Mennonite Thanksgiving looks like any other Thanksgiving. People congregate, spend quality time together, eat, and drink. They also enjoy entertainment during this holiday. Depending on the size of the family, they will meet in an elder’s home and feast together. Mennonite women typically prepare, in advance, the food and drinks, which are in large quantities. It is common for attendees of the celebration to bring food dishes with them. As they eat, families chat and merry-make. After that, the people will enjoy Thanksgiving dessert, an assortment of cakes, pies, and cookies. Entertainment comes after dessert. Here, Mennonites engage in song, dance, storytelling, and games. Depending on the Mennonite community, the Thanksgiving celebrations are extended over days. It’s a good break for them since they work hard daily.
How Do Mennonites Celebrate Thanksgiving?
To celebrate Thanksgiving, Mennonites spend the day with family and friends, eating and celebrating. Since Thanksgiving is a holiday for showing gratitude, spending time with loved ones and eating well are fantastic ways of showing thankfulness. Pastor Friesen insists that in addition to merrymaking, Mennonites should take time during Thanksgiving to remember Native Americans, Pilgrims, and the genocide of their ancestors. She suggests that there are acts Mennonites can do to celebrate Thanksgiving Day respectfully. For example, contributing a reparative offering to indigenous groups and their organizations, going through educational material about the history of Thanksgiving, and dedicating some time to mourn for the lost souls.
What Does Mennonite Thanksgiving Meal Look Like?
Mennonites and other Anabaptist churches have great meals and tons of food during Thanksgiving. Their feasts are no different from those of non-Mennonites. Some common meals and foods you can find at a Mennonite Thanksgiving are turkey roasts, bread rolls, corn, mashed potatoes, stuffing, squash, mashed potatoes, gravy, and assorted vegetables. For Thanksgiving desserts, Mennonites indulge in on the festive day, including apple pie, pumpkin pie, cookies, cakes, and brownies. Food is an essential aspect of Thanksgiving since it is a basic human need many people do not have. By indulging in good food over this holiday, Mennonites are reminding themselves of the privilege and blessings they have from God.
What Other Holidays Do Mennonites Celebrate?
Aside from Thanksgiving, many Mennonites celebrate Pentecost, Christmas, Epiphany, Good Friday, Easter, New Year’s Day, and Ascension Day. Here’s more about them:
- Christmas – on the 25th of December to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ.
- Epiphany – on the 6th of January to commemorate the three wise men that visited Jesus Christ after His birth.
- Good Friday and Easter – Good Friday is used to reflect on the death of Jesus Christ, while Easter celebrates His resurrection.
- Ascension Day – on the 6th Thursday after Easter to remember Jesus Christ’s Holy Ascension into Heaven.
- Pentecost – on the 7th Sunday after Easter. It is used to commemorate the coming of the Holy Spirit to all Christians.
- New Year’s Day – on the 1st of January. Mennonites follow the same calendar as many other cultures around the world, so they also celebrate this day to ring in the New Year.
Mennonites and other Anabaptist communities celebrate these holidays like other Christians. According to the Mennonite Church, these days are ‘holy days,’ especially if they are extended for more than one day, like Easter. Also, Mennonite celebrations for some holidays like Thanksgiving and Pentecost over three days, unlike other churches and denominations.
As a devout Christian, I have always been passionate about the Christian faith. This inspired me to pursue a degree in Religious studies and a Masters in Theology in college. I have also been privileged to teach 4 Christian courses in a college and university. Since I am dedicated to spreading the word of God, I am actively involved in the Church. Additionally, I share his word online and cover diverse topics on the Christian faith through my platform. You can read more about me on the about us page.