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An International Thanksgiving Day

Not the Fourth of July, but Thanksgiving is our most distinctive national holiday. Other nations have days celebrating their birth or independence; none other has Thanksgiving. Other peoples have had harvest festivals, in joyousness similar to the day we celebrate; but no other people has ever had a distinctive day like Thanksgiving. It is a religious, not a sectarian—a national, not a sectional— festival.

Set apart first by the Pilgrim fathers of New England, it spread to all parts of the land. It exalts gratitude, one of the finest human traits. It calls together the scattered members of the family. Coming at the time it does, it serves as an admirable prelude to the joy of the universal Christmas-tide. Our observance of the day has its own peculiar traditions, but these traditions appeal most strongly to the old stock of New England or to their descendants scattered throughout the West.

Frank Leslie’s Weekly, published from 1855 to 1922, was an American illustrated news publication started by publisher and illustrator Frank Leslie. While only 30 copies of the first edition were printed, by 1897 its circulation had grown to an estimated 65,000 copies.
A large part of our population, those living in the South, while thoroughly loyal to Thanksgiving, have no special interest in the New England atmosphere in which the observance was born. It is not the tradition that clusters about the institution of Thanksgiving that appeals to our people as a whole, but the evident fitness of having such a day in the calendar of business, church, and home.

If it be possible to bring it about, would not an international Thanksgiving Day be a forward step toward the brotherhood and Christian unity so much desired? If we have reason to be thankful, so has the rest of the world. Why should not this youngest of the great nations invite the world to unite with us in celebrating one day with praise, prayer, and thanksgiving?

All mankind receives blessings from the same source, and it is well to remember that Protestant, Catholic, and Jew all pray to the same heavenly Father. The utilitarian age in which we live needs an observance like this to call it back to the thought of the providence of God. Many there are who profess no personal religious belief, but who by such a festival day are at least reminded of God and of the fact that the majority of their fellow-men recognize the propriety of giving Him thanks.

An international Thanksgiving Day would crystallize in itself the universal human sentiment of gratitude, would emphasize our common dependence upon God, and would be to the world an object lesson, illustrative of the tie that binds us all together—a bond not subject to the distinctions of race or religious creed.

Source: Frank Leslies Weekly, November 26, 1908

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