NPR : News

Filed Under:

How Did Thanksgiving End Up On The Fourth Thursday?

Move Thanksgiving to Friday? That's what F.B. Haviland asked President Hoover in 1929.

Didn't happen. But while we're on the subject, ever wonder why we carve our gobblers on the fourth Thursday of November? Hint: It's not because Thanksgiving Thursday is more alliterative than Thanksgiving Friday.

In 1789, President Washington declared Thurs., Nov. 26, as a "Day of Publick Thanksgivin," according to the National Archives. But in the years following, the date for the holiday was announced by presidential proclamation and celebrated on various days and months. When President Lincoln made his Thanksgiving proclamation in 1863, the last Thursday of November became standard.

Then came the big date dispute of 1939 when two Thanksgiving holidays were observed.

You see, according to the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum, a five-Thursday November fell in 1933 and some retailers asked President Roosevelt to move the holiday up a week.

The president denied the request and Americans ate their turkey on the last Thursday as always in 1933.

But, Roosevelt was president for a long time, long enough for another five Thursday November to roll around in 1939. Once again, some business leaders asked if the date for the holiday could be a week earlier to give people more time to shop for Christmas, and this time Roosevelt agreed to do it. This raised a hue and cry as many people felt that he was catering to large retailers so they could make more money.

A few governors decided their states would have Thanksgiving on the last Thursday of the month as usual and that's how some people ended up celebrating it a week earlier or later than others. For two years.

President Roosevelt stuck with the second-to-last Thursday schedule, some states stuck with the last Thursday of the month schedule and finally on Dec. 26, 1941, Congress passed a law making Thanksgiving the fourth Thursday of November.

Now you have a story to tell over Thanksgiving dinner. You're welcome.

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

NPR

Texas Bookseller Picks 3 Summer Reads

Julia Green of Front Street Books recommends Moonlight on Linoleum by Terry Helwig, City of Women by David R. Gillham and The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly.
NPR

He Used To Live On The Streets Of Mumbai. Now, His Cafe Welcomes Everyone

Amin Sheikh's new cafe is a rarity in class-stratified India: It's open to people from all walks of life. Sheikh is a former street child, and so are many of his employees.
NPR

For Many Black Voters, Trump's 'What Do You Have To Lose?' Plea Isn't Enough

Donald Trump promises to help bring jobs and security to black neighborhoods. But his poll numbers with African-Americans are in the low single digits, and many say his message is insulting.
NPR

WATCH: Squishy 'Octobot' Moves Autonomously

The robot designed by a team from Harvard University moves without the help of any rigid parts. Researchers say it is the first proof-of-concept design for an entirely soft, autonomous machine.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.