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Thanksgiving Is Coming Late This Year for This Historical Reason


Oct. 21 2019, Updated 3:49 p.m. ET

With Halloween right around the corner, there's a likely chance you're already starting to think about Thanksgiving. But if you've happened to glance at a calendar this year, you may have noticed that Thanksgiving falls during the last week of November, on the 28th of the month. 

To give you a bit of additional perspective (re: Thanksgiving's timing), it landed on the 22nd last year in 2018, and on the 23rd back in 2017. 

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Why is Thanksgiving coming late this year? 

And since the monumental fall holiday is coming almost a full week later in 2019, you may be wondering, "why is Thanksgiving coming late this year?" 

Stay tuned for a full-fledged history lesson, my friends —  the reason behind its tardiness dates back pretty far. 

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It all started when FDR was president.

In 1939, to be exact. Up until November of that year, Thanksgiving was celebrated on the last Thursday of November every year, according to Country Living. But during his sixth year in office, everything changed.

The month of November had started on a Wednesday, which meant there were five Thursdays of the month rather than four. So, Franklin decided to move the holiday to the second-to-last Thursday.

When FDR changed the date of Thanksgiving, not too many people were on board at first, according to TIME. But FDR ended up justifying his decision by saying there would be more time to buy gifts between Thanksgiving and Christmas, if Thanksgiving was moved up in the month. 

... And that's what ultimately started Black Friday. Crazy, right?

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Anyway, he meant to change it back the following year, but it stuck.

The following year in 1940, Thanksgiving fell on the second-to-last Thursday of the month, once again, despite the fact there weren't five Thursdays in the month of November. 

But according to TIME, FDR had admitted it had been a mistake, because the calendars had already been printed. Oops.

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At the end of the following year in 1941, FDR ended up signing a bill mandating that the holiday would always fall on the fourth Thursday of the month, according to Country Living, regardless of how many Thursdays there were in the month of November.

And with the birth of Black Friday, Thanksgiving maintained its time slot. Yep, it's largely because of capitalism, my friends. Too wild.

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Did Thanksgiving actually happen?

You bet! The first official celebration occurred in October 1621, in Plymouth, Massachusetts. The Spanish colony settlers and the Wampanoag tribe were reportedly both present. 

And while there aren't too many details regarding the actual food itself, a letter that English settler Edward Winslow wrote details a feast with "some 90 men."

So, it turns out Thanksgiving is coming late this year. Blame it on FDR for procrastinating his Christmas shopping, and for the fact that November starts on a Friday this year. 

If you're somehow already feeling unprepared for the pivotal November holiday, take solace in the fact it's coming late. Now you have extra time between spooky season and Turkey Day.

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