top of page
If you enjoyed this article, please consider supporting my work.

The Day of Public Humiliation

You've heard of Christmas, Halloween, Easter, and Thanksgiving, but have you ever observed the Day of Public Humiliation? While such terminology is far removed from today's America, our ancestors in New England knew exactly what it was and observed it.

Prior to embarking on their historic voyage, the Mayflower passengers fasted and observed a Day of Public Humiliation to "seek the Lord for direction". Fasting, according to Scriptures, is necessary in order to cast out and repel evil spirits and it also helps instill humility (having a humble spirit), which is required because God doesn't hear the prayers of the proud and the arrogant. The pilgrims certainly wanted God to hear their prayers as they ventured out onto the raging seas to found their new colony, the "city upon a hill".

Although the signers of the Mayflower Compact agreed their voyage was made "for the glory of God and advancement of ye Christian faith", some were more God-fearing and devoted than others. In fact, Mayflower passenger and Compact signer John Billington was said to have murdered a man during a dispute, a violation of God's 6th commandment "Thou shall not kill".

The church was the center of the community and strict rules were put in place to prevent people from giving place to sin, or the breaking of God's laws. The scriptures teach that sin leads to oppression and evil, so when liberalism and lawlessness crept in, the leaders recognized the dangers of allowing it to continue and prepared for spiritual warfare through prayer and fasting.

Below is a proclamation made on September 8, 1670, declaring September 22 a Day of Public Humiliation, due to an "increase of sin and evil".

From "The Fast and Thanksgiving Days of New England".


At a council held at Boston, Septemb. 8, 1670.

The Council taking into the serious Consideration the low estate of the Churches of God throughout the World, and the increase of Sin and Evil amongst ourselves, Gods hand following us for the same, Do therefore Appoint the Two and twentieth of the instant September to be a Day of Publick Humiliation throughout this Jurisdiction, and do command the same to several Churches, Elders, Ministers and People, solemnly to keep it accordingly: Hereby prohibiting all servile work on that day.

By the Council,

Edward Rawson Secret'. [Secretary]

Days of fasting and prayer were declared at different times and on different days since then. Some states implemented their own dates, but on July 20, 1775, the Second Continental Congress issued a proclamation for "a day of publick humiliation, fasting, and prayer" to be observed by the English Colonies. It was the first "national" day set aside for this purpose.

Today we officially still observe this practice twice a year - in the Fall and the Spring. In 1863, President Abraham Lincoln established Thanksgiving as a day of prayer and thanksgiving in the Fall and in 1952, President Harry Truman established the National Day of Prayer as a day of prayer and fasting in the Spring. Each year, the President is to make a statement encouraging Americans to pray on the National Day of Prayer. The law reads as follows:

The President shall issue each year a proclamation designating the first Thursday in May as a National Day of Prayer on which the people of the United States may turn to God in prayer and meditation at churches, in groups, and as individuals. (36 U.S. Code § 119).

The next Thanksgiving falls on November 25, 2021, and the next National Day of Prayer is May 5, 2022. We would be wise to take the advice of our forefathers and observe them, in hopes of restoring God's favor and blessing upon this nation and its people, but implementing these practices into our everyday lives couldn't hurt either.

For more information about the days of fasting and the early establishment of holidays in America, see The Fast and Thanksgiving Days of New England, by w. DeLoss Love, 1895.

UPDATE: Honest to God, at the moment I was about to post this blog, the Verse of the Day popped up on my phone and here's what it is:


Related Posts

See All


Sign up or log in to save this page to your Site Favorites.

bottom of page