(This post originally appeared on our blog November 23, 2011)
We know that the tradition of Thanksgiving has been celebrated since colonial days. But do you know how it became a Federal Holiday
The first post-nationhood proclamation on record was made by George Washington on October 3, 1789
. This marked the first time that Thanksgiving was officially recognized by the U.S. Government.
After that, Thanksgiving was proclaimed by presidents sporadically
until Abraham Lincoln took office; since then it has been an annual affair. Lincoln proclaimed it in 1861
, and after that the holiday was observed annually on the final Thursday in November.
In 1939, Franklin D. Roosevelt, proclaimed Thanksgiving a week earlier
, in an effort to kick start the holiday shopping season and give the country, which was in the midst of the Great Depression, an economic a boost.
Some states disagreed with this decision and decided to stick with celebrating Thanksgiving on the final Thursday, Nov. 30; while others observed the Nov. 23 celebration, which became known colloquially as ”Franksgiving.”
To end any confusion caused by Thanksgiving presidential proclaimations, Congress passed a joint resolution on October 6, 1941, that Thanksgiving would be observed on the fourth Thursday of November. Roosevelt signed the bill into law on December 25, 1941, thereby making Thanksgiving a matter of federal law.
You can learn more about Thanksgiving Day’s political journey from the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum and the Library of Congress Thanksgiving Timeline.