Thanksgiving Date Change: Retailers Need More Time

by Elisa Fierce

History on how a holiday meant to celebrate the harvest and other blessings of the year and whose history is  particularly rich in legend and symbolism, is one of the biggest economy boosters not only in America but in other countries who have adopted this American culture as well.


Rather than allowing the holiday to fall on its traditional date, the last Thursday of November, President Roosevelt issued a proclamation declaring that the holiday would instead be celebrated earlier.It was determined that most people do their Christmas shopping after Thanksgiving and retailers hoped that with an extra week of shopping, people would buy more.

U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt had a lot to think about in 1939. The world had been suffering from the Great Depression for a decade and the Second World War had just erupted in Europe. On top of that, the U.S. economy continued to look bleak. So when U.S. retailers begged him to move Thanksgiving up a week to increase the shopping days before Christmas, he agreed. When FDR issued his Thanksgiving Proclamation with the new date, there was an uproar throughout the country. For 75 years after Lincoln issued his Thanksgiving Proclamation, succeeding presidents honored the tradition and annually issued their own Thanksgiving Proclamation, declaring the last Thursday in November as the day of Thanksgiving. In 1939, the last Thursday of November was going to be November 30. Retailers complained to FDR that this only left 24 shopping days to Christmas and begged him to push Thanksgiving just one week earlier. 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.



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