Several years ago I was talking with my friend Mark about holidays. “I understand that the Watchtower Society is concerned about holidays that have some connection to pagan practices in their history. But what about Thanksgiving? There’s nothing pagan about Thanksgiving, is there? Why is the Watchtower against Thanksgiving?” My friend’s response: “I don’t really know. I just know that we believe that Thanksgiving is wrong.”
Mike illustrates something that’s common about many Jehovah’s Witnesses. Most of them aren’t very familiar with the “why” of what they believe. More recently I have learned why the Watchtower is against Thanksgiving, which has more to do with the fact that it’s sanctioned by the US Government, whom they see as part of the Satanic world system. The Watchtower doesn’t like government dictating anything about their religious beliefs or practices, so Thanksgiving is out. Once you start researching Watchtower beliefs, you may end up knowing more about their doctrines than most of their members. I happened to attend service at the local kingdom hall on Tue before thanksgiving, and noticed that the moderator commented that there were a number of attenders that were there from the Thursday group, since they would be traveling on the “worldly holiday” on Thursday. After service I told the moderator that I was puzzled, since “I thought that y’all didn’t celebrate Thanksgiving?” He said that although they definitely did not celebrate Thanksgiving, some of the members choose to go and visit their families on that day, “but without participating in the Thanksgiving part of things.” His answer did not resolve my puzzlement.