A programme outlining the peace thanksgiving service at Otaki on Sunday 20 July 1919. Click on image or follow this link to see the booklet.
Sunday 20 July 1919 – the day of thanksgiving
Several communities swapped the days on which they celebrated Soldiers’ and Children’s Day. But where the Day of Thanksgiving was celebrated, it was almost without exception on Sunday 20 July. Most had already held a day of thanksgiving on Sunday 6 July, in accordance with the King’s proclamation following the signing of peace on 28 June. But this didn’t stop the majority going ahead with plans for another day of thanksgiving on the 20th.
The format was fairly similar on both the 6th and the 20th. Special services were held at all churches and many communities also held large combined services. On the 6th these services were often preceded or followed by a military procession. These did not feature on the 20th, probably because of the large processions held on the other days of celebration. The combined services on the 20th were well attended in all the main centres, with 7000 people filling the Kensington Drill Hall in Dunedin. Christchurch appears to have had the biggest crowd, with an estimated 15,000 people attending a ‘peace thanksgiving service’ at the King Edward Barracks. Those present included the city’s Mayor and Mayoress, Dr and Mrs Thacker, Minister of Internal Affairs George Russell, returned soldiers and their relatives. The service was led by the Anglican Bishop of Christchurch, Churchill Julius. An 80-strong orchestra played and a 500-voice choir led the singing of the national anthem, Kiplings ‘Recessional’ and Handel’s ‘Hallelujah Chorus’.