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How did Thanksgiving come about?
Here’s a politically correct version:


Why is Thanksgiving the fourth Thursday of November?

The first Thanksgiving Day celebration was a three-day feast held during the fall in 1621. It happened between September 21 and November 11. As you may know Pilgrims were joined by the local Wampanoag tribe, including their leader, Chief Massasoit.

Various communities celebrated a day of thanksgiving afterwards as they deemed fit. However, in October of 1777 all 13 colonies celebrated a day of Thanksgiving.

The first national day of Thanksgiving was in 1789. praying-boyPresident George Washington proclaimed Thursday, November 26, 1789 to be “a day of public thanksgiving and prayer.” 

In wasn’t until October 3, 1863, that President Abraham Lincoln called for and issued a Thanksgiving Proclamation. It declared the last Thursday in November was to be a national day of “thanksgiving and praise.” 

Afterwards, presidents honored the tradition and annually issued their own Thanksgiving Proclamation until in 1939, President Franklin D. Roosevelt did not.

Since the day would fall on November 30th that month, retailers strongly complained to President Roosevelt that 24 shopping days before Christmas would be too short for profits that they counted upon.

[see: What is Black Friday?]

Since most people did Christmas shopping after Thanksgiving, the extra week of shopping seemed essential for the economy.

So the Thanksgiving Proclamation of August 31, 1939 declared the date of Thanksgiving to be Thursday, November 23, the second-to-last Thursday of the month.

The change caused unforeseen confusion — dates had previously been established for school schedules, football games, special events, entertainment, and family vacations.

During the following year, many governors could not agree with the decision to change the date and refused to follow it. The country became split on which Thanksgiving to observe. The nation went into a bit of a panic and there was great debate.

In 1940, 32 states and the District of Columbia observed the Thanksgiving on November 21. 16 states chose November 28th. The conflict finally came to the Congress.  On December 26, 1941, Congress passed into law that Thanksgiving would be henceforth the fourth Thursday of November.


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