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On this day in history: November 26th, 1941

On this day: Thanksgiving date resolved

President Franklin D. Roosevelt establishes the modern holiday


On November 26th, 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed a bill officially establishing the fourth Thursday in November as Thanksgiving Day.

The tradition of celebrating the holiday on Thursday dates back to the early history of the Plymouth and Massachusetts Bay colonies, when post-harvest holidays were celebrated on the weekday regularly set aside as “Lecture Day,” a midweek church meeting where topical sermons were presented. A famous Thanksgiving observance occurred in the autumn of 1621, when Plymouth governor William Bradford invited local members of the Wampanoag tribe to join the Pilgrims in a festival held in gratitude for the bounty of the season.

READ MORE: Thanksgiving: A Timeline of the Holiday

Thanksgiving became an annual custom throughout New England in the 17th century, and in 1777 the Continental Congress declared the first national American Thanksgiving following the Patriot victory at Saratoga. In 1789, President George Washington became the first president to proclaim a Thanksgiving holiday, when, at the request of Congress, he proclaimed November 26, a Thursday, as a day of national thanksgiving for the U.S. Constitution. However, it was not until 1863, when President Abraham Lincoln declared Thanksgiving to officially fall on the last Thursday of November, that the modern holiday was celebrated nationally.

With a few deviations, Lincoln’s precedent was followed annually by every subsequent president—until 1939. In 1939, Franklin D. Roosevelt departed from tradition by declaring November 23, the next to last Thursday that year, as Thanksgiving Day. Considerable controversy surrounded this deviation, and some Americans refused to honor Roosevelt’s declaration. For the next two years, Roosevelt repeated the unpopular proclamation, but on November 26, 1941, he admitted his mistake and signed a bill into law officially making the fourth Thursday in November the national holiday of Thanksgiving Day.

READ MORE: Thanksgiving History Facts and Trivia

Thanksgiving 2022, history.com, President Franklin Roosevelt, November, The History Channel


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  • MamaMia

    My husband and I went over to Golden Corral for Thanksgiving dinner. The line to get in was extremely long, and out the door, and raining lightly. We finally got up to the register and paid, and waited for the staff to find us a table. Well, we no sooner sat down, got our plates to go serve ourselves, and then the power went out! It was totally dark in there! Then it started getting very hot in there, and very very smoky. I was angry and started bitching. They said that 600 people, and other businesses were knocked out of power too. The cops had the road blocked off out front ( 434) and power crews were everywhere. People inside had to use their cellphone flashlights just to see what was in the trays on the buffet line. It was a disaster, and I was mad! Why turkey day? Believe it or not, they kept serving with no power! A nice lady fixing to eat coming in, ask me was it romantic, and I said no way, it was horrible! So you will know, if you go.......

    Thursday, November 24 Report this