Why Is Thanksgiving Always on a Thursday?

Every year, Thanksgiving is celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November. Though the alliteration “Thanksgiving Thursday” is very catchy, it isn’t the reason why Thanksgiving is on the fourth Thursday of November. Before this became the official date of the national holiday, the original date was celebrated on November 26th. George Washington is responsible for establishing this date in 1789, when he issued the first Thanksgiving proclamation by the federal government. Many states and people were still unfamiliar with Thanksgiving by 1817, so magazine editor Sarah Josepha Hale started a writing campaign to pressure President Abraham Lincoln to establish Thanksgiving as a national holiday.

In 1863, after decades of writing, Hale finally encouraged Lincoln to declare Thanksgiving a national on on the last Thursday of November. The United States continued to celebrate Thanksgiving on that set date until 1939, when President Franklin D. Roosevelt moved the holiday a week earlier, hoping it would spur retail sales during The Great Depression. Roosevelt’s plan became known as “Franksgiving”, but it failed because many people opposed the idea. In 1941, Roosevelt reluctantly signed a bill making Thanksgiving the fourth Thursday of November for everyone in the United States.     

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