On This Date In History: An Early Thanksgiving


On Thanksgiving Day, November 23, 1939, the Philadelphia Eagles beat the Pittsburgh Pirates (they became the Steelers in 1940) 17 - 14.  The game was played at the Eagles home field,  then known as Municipal Stadium   The interesting thing about this game is not the score, the teams or the stadium.  It's that in 1939, Thanksgiving was on November 23rd.

As you know, Thanksgiving is on the last Thursday in November.  Abraham Lincoln made that declaration in 1863.  However, in 1939, in the midst of a depression, President Roosevelt thought that it was in the best interest of the country to move Thanksgiving up a week.  With the holiday scheduled to fall on Novemeber 30th, retailers expressed concern about losing a week of Christmas shopping.  In an effort to help out the struggling economy and retailers, Roosevelt agreed and moved the holiday up a week to the 23rd.

Everyone was not on board with this decision.  Twenty three states celebrated on the 23rd and 23 celebrated on the 30th.  Two states, Texas and Colorado, celebrated on both days.  The country was in an uproar.  Families that had relatives in states that celebrated on different days didn't know what to do.  Calendars were a mess. Schools didn't know how to schedule their days off.  Letters poured in to the White House.  Here's a copy of one of our favorites.


Roosevelt held his ground and for two more years Thanksgiving was celebrated on the second to last Thursday in November.  Congress put an end to that in December of 1941 when they officially declared that Thanksgiving will, from then on, be held on the last Thursday of November.

There you go.  We've just given you some Thanksgiving dinner table conversation.  Happy Thanksgiving.


November 23, 2009 | E-mail | Comments (0) | Comment RSSRSS comment feed

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