It’s been years since I read Thanksgiving: An American Holiday, An American History (Appelbaum, 1984), but I was able to find the quote I mentioned a few days back. I don’t think the book fits the high academic standards that it probably should to accept this statement as gospel truth (i.e. no footnotes), but it does seem likely. This quote is discussing the late 17th century.
At first, no particular day of the week was reserved for Thanksgiving, but some days were thought more appropriate than others. Puritans observed the Sabbath as a Biblical ordinance and did not intrude their Thanksgivings upon it. Since Saturday was occupied with preparations for the Sabbath, and Monday was the day just after, these were not convenient choices. Friday was ruled out because it was the fast day of the Catholic church, and any day of prayer held on a Friday would have had “Romish” overtones. However, Thursday was lecture day in Boston: ministers offered afternoon sermons for those with the leisure time to attend weekday religious meetings. Perhaps for this reason Thursday early became the favorite day for fasts and thanksgivings, and although other days were occasionally chosen, Thursday became the traditional choice.
Comment by Researcher — November 19, 2008 @ 7:45 am
That makes sense, Researcher, and seems credible in part because the author does say “perhaps” — the obviously phony email forwards always seem to be unequivocally certain of undocumentable matters, so the reasonableness of the “perhaps” is reassuring.
The early Mormon choice of Thursday for fast day was, I understand (but cannot cite to a source) the result of Joseph Smith’s personal schedule. It had been decided to hold such a fast, and the upcoming Thursday was most convenient for Joseph — and as a result, for more than a generation, the first Thursday of the month was the Mormon fast day.
Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — November 19, 2008 @ 8:14 am