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

Military Veterans Take On Zombies In 'Range 15'

Range 15 is a new zombie movie made by war veterans for veterans. It's a dark comedy with a cast that includes Medal of Honor recipients, amputees and William Shatner.
NPR

Chef Eddie Huang On Cultural Identity And 'Intestine Sticky Rice Hot Dog'

Huang and his brothers, Evan and Emery, headed to China to reconnect with their culture, to eat lots and lots of food — and to cook. He's documented his travels in his new book, Double Cup Love.
NPR

No Sanders Vs. Trump Debate? Sad!

Although the de factor GOP presidential nominee had seemed open to the idea when asked by TV host Jimmy Kimmel, "it seems inappropriate that I would debate the second-place finisher," he says now.
NPR

North Korea Linked To $81 Million Bangladesh Bank Heist

Experts say code used by hackers in recent attacks on banks appears to be the same as code used in an attack on Sony Pictures which the FBI says was carried out by North Korea.

Leave a Comment

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