Thanksgiving is one of the most beloved holidays in America. But did you know that unlike other secular holidays like or the , Thanksgiving is a national holiday that is explicitly religious in nature?
In 1789, in his first year in office, President George Washington called for a day of Thanksgiving because —
“it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor.”
In 1815, President James Madison issued a proclamation for “a day of thanksgiving and of devout acknowledgments to for His great goodness.” After Madison, however, Thanksgiving reverted to a regional celebration in for 48 years.
In 1863, magazine editor Sarah Josepha Hale petitioned the Lincoln administration that “a day of Thanksgiving now needs National recognition and authoritive fixation, only, to become permanently, an American custom and institution.”
President Abraham Lincoln called on Americans that year to “fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore if, as soon as may be consistent with the divine purpose, to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility, and union.”
The United States of America is one of only ten countries that set aside a day to give thanks. In so doing, our forefathers displayed not only virtue, recognizing God’s bounty, but also practical wisdom. We now know, from scientific research, that gratitude, not money, is the key to being happy and healthy. Research shows that happy people tend to:
- express gratitude on a regular basis;
- practice being optimistic;
- engage in frequent acts of kindness;
- savor joyful events; and
- practice forgiveness.
We of the Fellowship of the Minds want to take this occasion to thank all our readers and especially our faithful regular commenters who contribute so much to this blog with their intelligence, trenchant observation, righteous outrage, and wit.
God bless you, and may God have mercy on America,