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Happy Thanksgiving or Is It?
November 26, 2002 6:52 PM   Subscribe

Happy Thanksgiving or Is It? In 1939, Franklin Delano Roosevelt responed to pressure from the National Retail Dry Goods Association to move the official date of Thanksgiving back one week to the next-to-last Thursday of the month. FDR hoped that this would enliven the economy by adding one week to the Christmas shopping season, but he received considerable political flak for tampering with what many viewed as a sacred religious holiday. (Thanksgiving is considered sacred even though it only became a national holiday due to lobbying by the editor of a 19th century woman's magazine.) New Deal-era Republicans were especially bothered by the calendar change and one essayist at the American Enterprise Institute still seems to carry a grudge. Congress later resolved the issue by passing a resolution in 1941 that designated Thanksgiving as the fourth Thursday of November.
posted by jonp72 (11 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

 
Good post.
posted by four panels at 7:03 PM on November 26, 2002


Fantastic stuff. I've never heard of any of this before.
posted by mathowie at 8:07 PM on November 26, 2002


And still the age old question...why Thursday?
posted by superfem at 8:42 PM on November 26, 2002


Sarah Josepha Hale was more than just the editor of a nineteenth century woman's magazine. This woman's feats are impressive (scroll down).

She is not only responsible for Thanksgiving being a U.S. national holiday, she also wrote Mary Had a Little Lamb and dozens of childrens books and hundreds of poems. She helped establish Vassar College. She was the first to suggest public playgrounds. She was the first to advocate girl students and women teachers in public education.

And she was the editor of a nineteenth century womans magazine.
posted by jdroth at 8:49 PM on November 26, 2002


this was a great post (and ditto on jdroth's contribution)
posted by donkeyschlong at 9:40 PM on November 26, 2002


I'll second that "Why Thursday?" question. Anyone?
posted by kayjay at 10:35 PM on November 26, 2002


Aw, nurts -- I just spent over an hour uncovering what jdroth apparently had to fingertips, half-remembered tidbits about Sarah Hale. Good show, jdroth.

And nice post.
posted by gleuschk at 10:56 PM on November 26, 2002


... tampering with what many viewed as a sacred religious holiday. (Thanksgiving is considered sacred...

I'm sorry, help me out here. What religion would that be?

And yeah, why Thursday?
posted by Dick Paris at 11:11 PM on November 26, 2002


What religion would that be?

the church of get off our land you damn dirty injuns -- oh, and here's some syphilis.

right?
posted by donkeyschlong at 11:35 PM on November 26, 2002


Thursday? Well, the FDR Library blames it on Lincoln, and Hale may have blamed it on Washington. I suspect there's something to the idea of Thrusday being a Puritan "Lecture Day" appropriate for a Harvest festival.
posted by dhartung at 5:42 AM on November 27, 2002


Puritan "Lecture Day." Yes, you're right. Anyhow, Thanksgiving really ought to be every day. Thanks are always in short supply, as is the appreciation that leads to them.
posted by superfem at 12:52 PM on November 27, 2002


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