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When Was the Last Time Thanksgiving Was So Early?

CLEVELAND, Ohio – Plenty of leaves are still on the trees. Temperatures have been in the 50s and 60s. Doesn’t it seem to be too early to be thinking about Thanksgiving?

Yet, Thanksgiving is just around the corner. Next week is the last full week before Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving – this year on Nov. 23 – hasn’t fallen this early in five years. In 2018, the feast of a holiday was on Nov. 22, the earliest possible date since Americans begin celebrating the holiday regularly on the fourth Thursday in November back in 1942.

Before then, it briefly was even earlier, thanks to President Franklin Roosevelt’s desire to encourage more spending on – you guessed it – Christmas.

From 1939 to 1941, Roosevelt moved Thanksgiving to the second to last Thursday of November (instead of the last Thursday) to extend the holiday shopping season.

Otherwise, the 1939 Thanksgiving would have fallen on the last day of the month, Nov. 30. As a result of the change, Thanksgiving was as early as Nov. 20, in 1941. However, some states did not follow the national lead, creating different Thanksgivings.

Congress and President Roosevelt in late 1941 established the fourth Thursday in November as Thanksgiving, beginning in 1942, a tradition that has not changed since.

Ahead of Roosevelt:

  • Nov. 26, 1789: President George Washington, in response to a request from Congress, declared this date a Day of Publick Thanksgivin [sic].
  • 1790 – 1862: Presidents declared various days in various months as Thanksgiving.
  • 1863 – 1938: In 1863, President Abraham Lincoln declared Thanksgiving as the last Thursday in November. This definition for determining Thanksgiving was followed for the next 75 years.

Source : Cleveland