Why does the family have a thanksgiving celebration on the island in The Swiss Family Robinson by Johann David Wyss?
In The Swiss Family Robinson, the Robinson family has a feast of thanksgiving on the island as a way to celebrate the fact that they have managed to survive on the island for an entire year. This happens about midway through the book, in Chapters 22 and 23.
Towards the end of Chapter 22, the father of the family has woken up early and is lying in bed thinking about how long they have been on the island. He discovers that the next day will mark the anniversary of the day when they landed. As is often the case in this book, the father’s thoughts turn to religion. He says that
My heart swelled with gratitude to the gracious God, who had then granted us deliverance, and ever since had loaded us with benefits; and I resolved to set tomorrow apart as a day of thanksgiving, in joyful celebration of the occasion.
To celebrate the occasion, the family first listens as the father reads from his journal to remind them of some of the dangers they have been through and from scripture to remind them that they owe their survival to God. After that, the boys engage in a number of contests. The boys compete in such things as shooting, archery, climbing, and running. The parents give them gifts as prizes for their efforts and the father gives the mother a gift as well. There was a feast of some sort, but it is not really described.
The Swiss Family Robinson is, in many ways, a book that is meant to inculcate the Christian faith. The thanksgiving feast is one incident in which this is done. The feast happens because the father wants to celebrate the anniversary of their arrival on the island and to remind them to be grateful to God for delivering them.