My how the times have changed. The following is taken from HybridTalk, the NYSE Hybrid trading blog:
Happy Thursday, folks. Time for a historical trivia quiz: Why did NYSE close all day on Jan. 4, 1861?
b) Gold panic
c) A national day of fasting, humiliation and prayer
d) Railroad bankruptcy crisis
The answer is . . .
. . .
Today in NYSE History
04 Jan 1861 -- The NYSE was closed for a national day of fasting, humiliation, and prayer.
I just made up a, b and d, BTW. I can't find a mention of this day in various online histories, but I assume that President Lincoln ordered it before in the hopes of bringing people to their senses and averting the Civil War, which started that April. I guess that back in the day, humiliation did not have the negative connotation it does today. Maybe we would do well today to appreciate the meaning it must have had then -- to gain humility.
National Day of "fasting, humiliation and prayer?" Imagine telling a Goldman trader today that he had to take a day off for that.