Skip to comments.WHEN DID THANKSGIVING BECOME A NATIONAL HOLIDAY?(No Peeking!)
Posted on 11/21/2004 9:55:21 AM PST by GOPologist
While the first Thanksgiving dates back to the Pilgrims, it was many years after that Thanksgiving in 1621 that the day became a national holiday.
However, not all of the American public bought into this idea and thus it wasn't observed as a holiday until Presideent Abraham Lincoln proclaimed the last Thursday of November to be Thanksgiving in 1863. Many people credit magazine editor Sarah Josepha Hale for persuading Lincoln. Hale used her magazine and letters sent to many political and otherwise influential people to campaign for this holiday.
Around 1939, President Franklin Roosevelt moved Thanksgiving forward, to the fourth Thursday of November, which is how it's celebrated today.
In 1991, the FARMER'S ALMANAC campaigned to have Thanksgiving moved to October so holiday travelers could avoid bad winter weather. We must admit most of our readers hated that idea.
Note above the strong influence of "letters to editors." Also, we offer our sincere "Thanks" to our troops everywhere.
They had football back then?
Must be the same white-knuckled knuckleheads that wanted election day moved to July.
If George Washington were alive today, he would have been sued by the ACLU for discriminating against atheists. Democrats would call him a "right wing nut religious zealot" and every Liberal rag would go out of their way to malign him in ways that would make CBS blush.
This nation has lost its way. It's up to us to set her back on the right path.
Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas....
They wanted it to be in October so we could be in alignment with Canada, I suppose. Everyone knows America wants to be just like Canada when it grows up.
WHAT ????...Did they have so-called "over worked & underpaid" Federal Employees wanting yet ANOTHER (paid?) day off ???
I agree with you there.
That's what I was thinking initially.
National Day's like "National Ice Cream Day" or "National Baked Bean Month" or "National Potato Chip Month" and all that nonsense.
It would be great this year to aggressively push for public consumption the real underlying story of Thanksgiving that Rush Limbaugh chronicles every year at this time. Basically, the triumph of capitalism over communism/socialism, as told by William Bradford in his diary from that time. Originally set up as an 'each according to his needs' commie colony, the Pilgrims were floundering until Bradford canned that system in favor of an 'everyone works for themselves' setup. The colonies improved signficantly, there were surpluses, and they gave thanks.
Oh, and by the way; Yeah, right that the settlers needed Indians to show them how to grow corn. As though these people never grew any crops in Europe. Hell, I grew corn in my backyard in Southern California when I was 6 years old. The stuff grows like a weed.
The worst one of them all is United Nations Day.
It was 1933, the first Thanksgiving of his administration. The idea was to increase the number of Christmas shopping days.
On Thanksgiving Day, November 23, 1939, Franklin Roosevelt carved the turkey at the annual Thanksgiving Dinner at Warm Springs, Georgia, and wished all Americans across the country a Happy Thanksgiving. Unfortunately, his greeting went unanswered in some states; many Americans were not observing Thanksgiving on the same day as the President. Instead, they were waiting to carve their turkeys on the following Thursday because November 30th in many states was the official Thanksgiving Day. Two Thanksgivings? Why were Americans celebrating a national holiday on two different days?
At the beginning of Franklin Roosevelt's presidency, Thanksgiving was not a fixed holiday; it was up to the President to issue a Thanksgiving Proclamation to announce what date the holiday would fall on. However, Thanksgiving was always the last Thursday in November because that was the day President Abraham Lincoln observed the holiday when he declared Thanksgiving a national holiday in 1863. Franklin Roosevelt continued that tradition, but he soon found that tradition was difficult to keep in extreme circumstances such as the Great Depression. His first Thanksgiving in office, 1933, fell on November 30th, the last day of the month, because November had five Thursdays that year. Since statistics showed that most people did not do their Christmas shopping until after Thanksgiving, business leaders feared they would lose money, especially during the Depression, because there were only 24 shopping days between Thanksgiving and Christmas. They asked Franklin Roosevelt to make Thanksgiving one week earlier. President Roosevelt ignored those concerns in 1933, but when Thanksgiving once again threatened to fall on the last day of November in 1939, FDR reconsidered the request and moved the date of Thanksgiving up one week. Thanksgiving 1939 would be held, President Roosevelt proclaimed, on November 23rd and not November 30th. Changing the date of Thanksgiving seemed harmless enough, but in actuality proved quite controversial. It was so upsetting that thousands of letters poured into the White House once President Roosevelt announced the date change. Some retailers were pleased because they hoped the extra week of Christmas shopping would increase profits, but smaller businesses complained they would lose business to larger stores. Other companies that depended on Thanksgiving as the last Thursday of November lost money; calendar makers were the worst hit because they printed calendars years in advance and FDR made their calendars out of date for the next two years. Schools were also disrupted by Roosevelt's decision; most schools had already scheduled vacations and annual Thanksgiving Day football games by the time they learned of Thanksgiving's new date and had to decide whether or not to reschedule everything. Moreover, many Americans were angry that Roosevelt tried to alter such a long-standing tradition and American values just to help businesses make more money.*
As opposition grew, some states took matters into their own hands and defied the Presidential Proclamation. Some governors declared November 30th as Thanksgiving. And so, depending upon where one lived, Thanksgiving was celebrated on the 23rd and the 30th. This was worse than changing the date in the first place because families that lived in states such as New York did not have the same day off as family members in states such as Connecticut! Family and friends were unable to celebrate the holiday together.
Franklin Roosevelt observed Thanksgiving on the second to last Thursday of November for two more years, but the amount of public outrage prompted Congress to pass a law on December 26, 1941, ensuring that all Americans would celebrate a unified Thanksgiving on the fourth Thursday of November every year.
*Many Americans at the time believed that the Pilgrims chose the last Thursday in November to be Thanksgiving, but that is not the case. Although Americans had celebrated days of thanksgiving before, it was not until 1863 when President Lincoln began the observance of Thanksgiving in November.
Your comments and subsequent letters sent to President FDR are priceless. Thank you (This my Thanksgiving to you, or should that be "for you?").
P.S I live in Boston, MA. I know what's like around there for the most part. About the weather, it's just perfect in October because the leaves just change color so magnificently. Right now it's dead and grave looking. It's going to be a cold Thanksgiving for me.
Ummmmm, would the weather in western Europe (and in particular England) be closer to Boston's climate or to California's????