John Hancock Day

Why celebrate John Hancock’s birthday?  Wasn’t John Hancock a smuggler, a rancorous extremist whose stubborn personality caused schisms between himelf and other Patriots like Samuel Adams?  And why should a political figure be celebrated by a religious movement anyway?

The 12 Days of Defiance celebrate morality put into action.  Although Hancock was among the Congregationalists who could be called proto-Unitarians (some would just call him a Unitarian) this is a virtue that applies to all religions: when you believe something to be right, you stand up for it even at the risk of your own life. 

 St. Lucian, teacher of Arius, was tortured for nine years but refused to renounce his religion.  The traditional date of his execution, January 7th, is the First Day of Defiance.   The last six days commemorate the Nika Riots, when oppressed Monophysite “Greens” in Constantinople were joined in their defiance of the Emperor by the “Blues,” former Imperial loyalists, in a remarkable (but ultimately doomed) selection of moral solidarity over political partisanship by the Blues.

John Hancock has likewise become a symbol of courage and resistance to tyranny, and it is in this symbolic role as the exemplar of moral action that we celebrate his birthday on January 12, the 6th Day of Defiance.