It was 1939 and the United States was still recovering from the Great Depression. President Roosevelt made the controversial decision to move Thanksgiving forward one week so retailers would have an extra week of sales between Thanksgiving and Christmas to help stimulate the economy. Back in 1863 President Lincoln set the last Thursday in November “as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise”.
The decision to move Thanksgiving created confusion and controversy. There were protests in Plymouth, Massachusetts, a site commonly thought to be the location of the “first Thanksgiving” in 1621. The protests spread to other circles. College football games were disrupted as games were scheduled years in advance and those games scheduled on Thanksgiving Day would be impacted. In Arkansas, a staunchly Democratic state at the time, a collegiate football coach was quoted as saying “We’ll vote the Republican ticket if he interferes with our football!” According to a public opinion poll, 62% of respondents disapproved of the change. (Yes, there were polls back in 1939).
Because of the uproar and unpopularity of FDR’s decision, some defiant governors declared November 30th as Thanksgiving, so depending on which state you were from, Thanksgiving was to be celebrated on either the 23rd or the 30th. This created issues for families trying to celebrate the holiday but their day off was different, depending on which state they were from.
Two states declared both days as Thanksgiving – Colorado and you guessed it – Texas! We Texans love our holidays!
By 1941 most everyone agreed that the experiment wasn’t working and Congress passed a Joint Resolution that President Roosevelt signed on December 26th 1941 officially establishing the fourth Thursday in November as the national Thanksgiving holiday.
Here’s wishing you and yours a happy Thanksgiving Day filled with food, fun and family!