Do You Know Why Thanksgiving Is On The Fourth Thursday Of November?
The date wasn't just chosen randomly...
There are certain things about life we don't give much thought to, like the number of days in a year or the names of the days of the week. Most of us also probably have never questioned why Thanksgiving falls on the fourth Thursday in November. I never gave this any thought at all until I discovered a story about the history of Thanksgiving as a federal holiday on Fox News. It turns out it's a lot more complicated that I would have ever guessed if it had ever crossed my mind before.
We all know the first Thanksgiving was shared in Plymouth between the Puritans and Native Americans (the Wampanoag to be precise). What you may not know (I didn't!) was that George Washington declared November 26th of 1789 as a day of 'Public Thanksgiving." This started a trend that the presidents who came after Washington continued. They didn't all choose the same month or day until Abraham Lincoln declared the fourth Thursday in November as Thanksgiving Day in 1863. This stayed in place for decades and would have probably never changed if not for The Great Depression.
Some people were worried that the lateness of Thanksgiving in 1939 would not help economic recovery. Franklin Roosevelt solved this problem by moving Thanksgiving to the second to last Thursday in November so that there would be more shopping days before Christmas. The problem with this was that sixteen states didn't care for this change at all and rejected the change. This meant that Thanksgiving was now on a different date depending on what state you lived in. Congress stepped in and set an annual fixed date for Thanksgiving: the fourth Thursday in November. Roosevelt signed the resolution and it has been the official Thanksgiving Day ever since.
Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!