We don’t need to be told that holding on to anger is bad for us — that is why Global Forgiveness Day, celebrated on July 7 each year, is so special to us. Established to increase the goodwill among people, Global Forgiveness Day asks everyone to try and set their differences aside and create a world full of healing and letting go of negativity.
History of Global Forgiveness Day
Forgiveness — aka the concept of pardoning someone after an offense, letting go of negative emotions, and releasing the hurt — has always been a key principle of every religion around the globe. The teachings from these religions highlight the nature of forgiveness and have provided a basis for the modern traditions and practices used to forgive. While philosophers also studied the concept of forgiveness, the emotion was primarily related to matters of faith.
It was only later, in the 20th century, that forgiveness caught science’s attention. Scientists, educators, and psychologists began studying forgiveness and its impact on human well-being. What they found was that forgiveness was a process. Multiple researchers developed models of forgiveness, like step-by-step approaches that would allow people to improve their ability to forgive. Later studies even attempted to understand the relationship between forgiveness and justice, particularly after particular incidents involving famous acts of forgiveness.
Japanese fighter pilot, Nobuo Fujita, had bombed the west coast of the U.S. over Oregon during WW2, which sparked great fires. The town of Brookings, Oregon, was greatly affected by this. When Fujita visited the town in 1962, he asked for forgiveness and was granted it by the townspeople. Then, in the late 20th century, Pope John Paul II publicly forgave the man who tried to assassinate him and even visited him in prison during his sentence.
The Christian Embassy of Christ’s Ambassadors (CECA) founded National Forgiveness Day in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. They hung a single banner proclaiming this day in downtown Victoria. As this day gained prominence throughout the world, it was renamed Global Forgiveness Day.
Global Forgiveness Day timeline
The town of Brookings, Oregon, forgives a Japanese fighter pilot who bombed them in WW2 — he offers them a 400-year sword as a symbol of his goodwill, which is still displayed in this town as a sign of their friendship.
Pope John Paul II, one of the most beloved figures of the time, survives an assassination attempt by a young radicalized man — he publicly forgives him on this day.
Research by the Gallup Organization finds that 94% of people feel like forgiveness is important, but 85% require outside help to achieve this.
CECA, the Christian Embassy of Christ’s Ambassadors, establishes National Forgiveness Day, which is later renamed Global Forgiveness Day.
Psychologists and educators start paying attention to forgiveness — studies and research projects abound.
Global Forgiveness Day FAQs
What are the three steps of forgiveness?
A psychiatry blog recommends that we should first, acknowledge our feelings, then, try to understand why the person acted the way they did, and, finally, try to forgive them for their actions.
What day is National Forgiveness Day?
National Forgiveness Day is another name for Global Forgiveness Day, and it is celebrated on July 7.
Why is World Forgiveness Day celebrated?
Global or World Forgiveness Day was established to increase the goodwill among people and heal them from the constant hurt and pain they carry with them.
Forgive the ones who hurt you
Forgive the ones who hurt you
Take a moment. Think about someone you are angry at or those you cannot forgive (it might even be you). Then decide to let go of the anger weighing you down and forgive, or at least take steps towards extending them your forgiveness. This doesn't mean your relationship has to continue; sometimes forgiving is as simple as letting the person go. Try your best to start with a clean slate.
Lead by example and teach forgiveness
Forgiveness is good for the soul. Let others see how freeing forgiving someone can be. Show everyone, especially children, that forgiveness is a quality to develop and hone in themselves and others. Your example of forgiveness can inspire others to do the same.
Have a forgiveness-themed movie night
The silver screen has been a great source of movies with redemption themes and forgiveness woven into the storyline. So take inspiration from this and set up a themed movie night that primes you to do the same, forgive, in real life. You can pick from the biographical sports drama “Invictus,” the coming-of-age dramedy “Lady Bird,” or the 2004 South African drama “Forgiveness.”
5 Interesting Facts About Global Forgiveness Day
Emotions can affect forgiveness
Brain scans show that the emotional centers of the brain light up when a person considers forgiving someone.
Cats aren't the forgiving type
Scientists say while many animals including bonobos, mountain gorillas, chimps, goats, and hyenas are capable of forgiveness, cats do not exhibit any such behavior.
Extroverts need more forgiving
Not because they hurt people more, but because needing forgiveness is just in their nature, more so than introverts.
More forgiveness for Americans, please
A survey by the nonprofit Fetzer Institute showed 65% of American adults said they needed more forgiveness in their personal lives.
Forgiving people fall ill less
A study by the University of Wisconsin showed forgiving people suffered less from certain illnesses.
Why Global Forgiveness Day Is Important
Holding on to anger hurts
Keeping a grudge or remembering old hurts affects us more than the people we are angry at. Unresolved issues are a huge threat to health and can cause stress. This stress can lead to physical symptoms like anxiety, high blood pressure, and depression. Holding on to anger can also lead to negative emotions and cause problems with anger management and frustration.
This day is an official reminder
Holding on to anger sometimes blocks us from the truth. Maybe it is finally time to forgive. Maybe we are ready for it. Having a special day focused on forgiveness may help us get to this point, or make us realize that we are already there.
A fresh start
Letting go of old anger and emotions is like a spring cleaning of the soul. We dust off the negative and make space for new and better emotions. We are all for this brand-new fresh start, whatever it may be about.
Global Forgiveness Day dates