When Was Thanksgiving Named A Real Holiday

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Every year, towards the end of November, Americans gather together to have a traditional holiday meal for the Thanksgiving holiday. It is a lovely tradition and one that almost everyone follows, since it brings people together. We can share the day and express what it is we are all thankful for during this special holiday. But when we refer to it as a holiday, it begs the question, when did Thanksgiving become a real holiday?

Well, Thanksgiving started out as a feast that the Pilgrims decided to have in order to celebrate the first harvest that they took out of the ground in the new world. They wanted to follow a biblical style of life and they decided to emulate Abel (remember the story of Cain and Abel, Abel offered the first fruits as a sacrifice, but his brother killed him because he loved God) by making a meal of the harvest. The turkey is actually likely to have been influenced by queen Elizabeth.

The story goes that Elizabeth was busy eating a goose when she heard the news that the Spanish armada which was on its way to attack the British fleet had sunk. She was so happy that she ordered a second goose be slaughtered and eaten in thanksgiving. Since geese were in short supply in the new world, the Pilgrims substituted turkey.

The tradition caught on and people began to celebrate Thanksgiving every year. However, it was never declared an official holiday. It was simply known that it happened at the end of November. In fact, the date was not set until centuries after the first Thanksgiving feast occurred.

"Okay," you say, "but when was thanksgiving made into a real holiday?" I'm getting there, don't worry.

President Lincoln set a tradition that the feast would take place on the fourth Thursday of the month of November. And every year, the presidents that followed him officially declared that the fourth day of the month was going to be thanksgiving. That is, every president until Franklin D. Roosevelt. FDR decided that Thanksgiving would be on the 30th of the month. The states split over his decision. It wasn't a real holiday yet and so about half of them followed FDR and the other half decided to hold it on the more traditional fourth Thursday of November.

At this point, Congress stepped in to settle the debate once and for and make thanksgiving a real holiday. They decided that Thanksgiving would always be on the fourth Thursday of the month of November, regardless of weather it was the last Thursday of the month or not. When president Roosevelt signed the law in 1941, Thanksgiving finally became a real holiday.

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