Social Studies Mini-Spark #24: Thanksgiving – The Origin of an American Holiday

As a nation, we’re about to celebrate Thanksgiving this week! Ever wonder how Thanksgiving became a national holiday?

In 1789, President George Washington proclaimed Thursday, November 26, 1789, as the first nationwide “Day of Public Thanksgiving”. In the years that followed, however, the holiday often changed days of the week and even months of the year.

In the mid-19th century, author Sarah Josepha Buell Hale began a campaign to make Thanksgiving a national holiday. In 1863, President Abraham Lincoln declared that the final Thursday of November should be set aside by all states – both North and South – as a day of Thanksgiving.

But this year, it’s the second-to-last Thursday in November.  Why did it change?

The last Thursday of November was the standard for about 80 years. In the 1930s, though, store owners began to complain when Novembers with five Thursdays rolled around. They claimed that celebrating Thanksgiving on the last Thursday in November in these months didn’t leave enough time for Christmas shopping.

FInally, on December 26th, 1941, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed a joint resolution of Congress that officially changed Thanksgiving from the last Thursday in November to the 4th Thursday in November.

Above, we mentioned that Sarah Josepha Buell Hale was an author. Just what did she write that you could recite from memory right now?

Click on the film below to find out how Thanksgiving became a national holiday and to find out the answer to that question.

After watching, comment below with the answer and with what you’re most thankful for.



4 thoughts on “Social Studies Mini-Spark #24: Thanksgiving – The Origin of an American Holiday

  1. She wrote to a lot of different presidents asking to change Thanksgiving to a holiday. I’m most thankful for family, friends, and WiFi.

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