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Why is Thanksgiving on a Thursday?

Tell Me Why: Thanksgiving edition
Tell Me Why: Thanksgiving edition 00:41

Unlike Christmas or a birthday – when the holiday has the same date – Thanksgiving falls on a Thursday with a different date every year. This year, Thanksgiving is on Nov. 23.

According to the Farmer's Almanac, in 1668, Nov. 25 was considered the "legal" annual day of Thanksgiving. This only lasted for five years.

Why is Thanksgiving on a Thursday?

Among the Puritan colonists, Thursday may have been tradition to distance the event from the Sabbath day. Thursday was also a typical day for lectures in New England, which may have contributed to the reason Thanksgiving is a Thursday.

Thomas Jefferson also insisted that Thanksgiving not be on a Sunday, as he believed it was a conflict of church and state to require the American people hold a day of prayer and thanksgiving.

In 1789, President George Washington issued a proclamation designating Nov. 26 of that year as a "Day of Publick Thanksgivin" to recognize the role of providence in creating the new United States and the new federal Constitution.

In 1863, President Abraham Lincoln designated the national day of Thanksgiving to be the last Thursday in November. Come 1938, President Roosevelt changed it to the third Thursday in November, but it wasn't very popular, the Farmer's Almanac says.

Three years later, it was changed to the fourth Thursday in November.

The earliest Thanksgiving can occur is Nov. 22 and the latest is Nov. 28. 

The Farmer's Almanac says it's important to note that it wasn't Lincoln or anyone else for that matter, who declared the Friday after Thanksgiving as the national day of shopping, aka Black Friday.

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