Thanksgiving and Halloween are typically American. Neither is part of the South African history or culture.
Many South African Christians of the older generation are against Halloween on the grounds that it is a celebration of evil. I heard a talk about twenty years ago by a policeman who told us about the increase of certain crimes on the 31st October, including rape and cruelty or dismemberment of domestic animals.
Others, perhaps younger, see Halloween as a harmless bit of fun for children. Children love dressing up and this is a great opportunity. Perhaps these younger people are more global citizens and have been exposed to international standards.
Thanksgiving is another American event, in fact, a public holiday. It is a time for families to get together and give thanks to God for all His blessings. Festival foods like roast turkey, cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie are enjoyed.
One would think these American events have nothing to do with South Africans. Yet, come mid October, shops are full of skeletons, witches hats, evil masks, spiders and webs with plastic jack ‘o lanterns scattered about.
Come November, there are no great sales on turkey, no specials on cranberry sauce, no pumpkin pie, not even tinned pumpkin to make pumpkin pie. There are no thanksgiving events in shops or malls. Thanksgiving is not mentioned in any advertising. Families do not make special plans to get together to give thanks to God.
I find this disparity odd. Why does one American custom spread and another not? Could it be something to do with our fallen nature? Do we find it much more fun to indulge our darker side and dress up as something evil than to focus on God? Could it be that there is no commercial advantage in advertising gratitude?
Perhaps giving thanks to God need not wait for a special day. Being thankful, not only to God but to others, is a habit well worth cultivating. Every day.
“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. (James 1:17 NIV)
Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. (1 Thes 5:16-18 NIV)
Thank You, Lord, for all your blessings. I know that all good things come from You. Thank You for the wonderful people You have put in my life. May I never take them for granted. Truly, the lines have fallen for me in pleasant places and I am forever grateful. Amen.