Thanksgiving Day, a cherished holiday in the United States, has a rich history that dates back to the early days of the nation. Over the years, it has undergone several changes, including the establishment of its current timing on the fourth Thursday in November. This significant shift took place on December 26, 1941, when President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed a joint resolution of Congress.

Prior to 1941, Thanksgiving Day was celebrated on the last Thursday of November. However, the decision to change the holiday’s timing was not made without careful consideration. The primary motive behind this change was to extend the holiday shopping season, a move aimed at boosting the economy during the challenging times of the Great Depression.

The Great Depression, which began in 1929 and lasted throughout the 1930s, was a period of severe economic downturn in the United States. The country was grappling with high unemployment rates, widespread poverty, and a significant decline in consumer spending. As the nation struggled to recover, President Roosevelt and his administration sought ways to stimulate economic growth and provide relief to the American people.

Recognizing the potential economic benefits of a longer holiday shopping season, President Roosevelt proposed the idea of moving Thanksgiving Day to an earlier date. By doing so, the hope was to encourage consumers to start their holiday shopping earlier, thereby boosting retail sales and stimulating the economy.

On November 26, 1941, the House of Representatives passed a resolution that officially designated the fourth Thursday in November as Thanksgiving Day. The Senate followed suit on December 9, 1941, and the joint resolution was sent to President Roosevelt for his signature.

Just weeks later, on December 26, 1941, President Roosevelt signed the joint resolution into law, establishing the fourth Thursday in November as the official date for Thanksgiving Day. This change took effect immediately, and the holiday has been celebrated on this day ever since.

The decision to establish Thanksgiving Day on the fourth Thursday in November was met with mixed reactions. While many Americans embraced the change, others were resistant to the idea of altering a long-standing tradition. Some argued that the move was motivated solely by commercial interests and undermined the true spirit of the holiday.

Despite the initial controversy, the new timing of Thanksgiving Day quickly became widely accepted and embraced by the American people. The extended holiday shopping season proved to be beneficial for both businesses and consumers. Retailers were able to capitalize on increased sales, while shoppers enjoyed the convenience of having more time to purchase gifts and prepare for the holiday season.

Today, Thanksgiving Day holds a special place in the hearts of Americans. It is a time for families and friends to come together, express gratitude, and enjoy a festive meal. The holiday also marks the beginning of the holiday season, a time of joy, giving, and celebration.

As we reflect on the establishment of Thanksgiving Day on December 26, 1941, it is important to recognize the historical context in which this change took place. The decision to extend the holiday season was a response to the economic challenges of the Great Depression, and it has had a lasting impact on American traditions and customs.


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Discover the historical significance of Thanksgiving Day and how it was established on December 26, 1941. Learn about the motivations behind this change and its impact on the holiday shopping season and the economy during the Great Depression. Explore the mixed reactions to the new timing and the lasting traditions that have emerged as a result.

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