Thanksgiving is an unusual holiday because it doesn’t always fall on the same day of the year. Unlike Halloween and Christmas, the holiday always falls on the same day of the week, Thursday.
While this may make planning around the holiday easier every year, many people don’t seem to know why the holiday is scheduled this way.
This year, Thanksgiving will fall on November 25, which is the fourth Thursday of the month. This has been the way that the date for the holiday has been determined since 1941. Before this, the holiday was traditionally held on the last Thursday of November.
In 1939, however, the last Thursday of the month was also the last day of the month. President Roosevelt was concerned that this would hurt shorten the Christmas shopping season, so he issued a proclamation that Thanksgiving would occur on the second to last Thursday of November instead.
This was a controversial decision, and in 1941, the House and Senate passed a resolution saying that Thanksgiving would occur on the fourth Thursday of November. This would thereby maintain the Christmas shopping season during years when November had five Thursdays.
This may answer why the holiday is scheduled the way that it is, but it doesn’t explain why Thursday was chosen instead of another day of the week.
The reason for this is a bit unclear. Going back to the earliest days of the tradition.
Historians believe that Thursday was chosen because it was one of the more convenient days of the week to have an annual feast. For the early Puritan settlers, Sunday was the Sabbath. It’s likely that the early days of giving thanks were purposely scheduled not to interfere with the Sabbath. Also, Fridays were commonly days of fasting, making them inconvenient feast days for many people.
Since ministers would often give lectures on Thursdays in the New England area, Thursday seemingly became a convenient day for Thanksgiving. As the years went by, it became a tradition. By the time George Washington issued a proclamation for a day of Thanksgiving, Thursday had already been associated with feasts of that nature.