Is Thanksgiving 2023 a national holiday?
The US celebrates Thanksgiving annually on the fourth Thursday of November. It’s one of the eleven national holidays the country observes within a year.
Thanksgiving is observed on the fourth Thursday of every November, and is one of the biggest celebrations in the United States.
The Turkey is the icon of the holiday, with the first Thanksgiving feast taking place in 1621. This was the year the Plymouth colonists and the Wampanoag shared the first autumn harvest feast together, marking the start of the tradition. However, the holiday’s actual date and its status as a legal public holiday changed over several decades.
How has Thanksgiving changed over the centuries?
The tradition of celebrating this day in late November goes all the way back to colonies in Massachusetts Bay and Plymouth, according to History.com. The occasion was a feast, rooted in the popularity of “Lecture Day”, a holiday that was centered around a midweek church sermon. One of the most famous Thanksgiving events was held in 1621, when the then-governor of Plymouth, William Bradford, invited local Native Americans to join the Pilgrims in celebrating the bountiful harvest for a three-day-long bonanza.
In the 17th century, Thanksgiving became a yearly tradition throughout New England. It was George Washington who in 1789 first declared Thanksgiving a holiday. He set the date as 26 November, also a Thursday, as a day of national thanksgiving for the US Constitution.
Thanksgiving’s fixed date is set
Then decades later, in 1863, Abraham Lincoln declared it was the modern national holiday we now enjoy – fixing the date for the last Thursday of November with Congress ratifying this seven years later.
On 26 November 1941, Franklin D Roosevelt signed a bill officially establishing the fourth Thursday in November as Thanksgiving Day, and therefore the first Thanksgiving national holiday.