The Five Kernels of Corn Tradition

When we worked with high school students in Romania, one of our favorite times of the year was introducing them to our Thanksgiving holiday tradition. We spoke in various high school English courses about the historical and spiritual roots of Thanksgiving. We also had a drawing in each class and chose one student to celebrate a Thanksgiving feast with our staff and their professors. One of the traditions we introduced them to involved five kernels of corn which were placed on each person’s plate before the meal. We then would share the following story:

Once Thanksgiving became established as a holiday, the Pilgrims would begin their meal with five kernels of corn on their plate. These five kernels stood for all the food the pilgrims had to eat for a full day during one difficult winter. That corn which remained was later planted in the spring. At Thanksgiving, just like the Pilgrims, we choose to use the five kernels of corn as a reminder that many almost starved because of a lack of food. Every pilgrim would stand up, picking each kernel of corn up while sharing the five things they were most thankful for on Thanksgiving day. This tradition has since been passed down from long ago. So even today, families place five kernels of corn on each plate to honor and remember the suffering and spirit of Thanksgiving that our Pilgrim ancestors went through.

In honor of Thanksgiving, I would like to suggest that we all use the five kernels around the table as we take time to remember all the ways that God has blessed us.

Happy Thanksgiving!

If you have a comment or choose to use the Five Kernels Story, let us know what happens here.


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