(WYTV) – On October 3, 1789, President George Washington declared that the nation would celebrate a day of public Thanksgiving on November 26 — 230 years ago.
That day turned out to be a Thursday. He wanted the nation to be thankful it had a new Constitution.
Why that day of the week?
A few theories: It was far enough from the weekend that it wouldn’t overlap with the Sabbath and it was common for New England ministers to give religious lectures on Thursday afternoons, so we could pray and be thankful all in one day.
In 1863, President Abraham Lincoln said Thanksgiving would be celebrated every year on the last Thursday in November.
But in 1939, President Franklin Roosevelt moved it to the fourth Thursday in November, to expand the Christmas gift-buying season, but only 32 of the 48 states went along. The other 16 called their last Thursday Thanksgiving “Republican Thanksgiving.”
To further confuse matters, Colorado, Mississippi and Texas celebrated both the fourth and last Thursdays in 1939 and 1940.
Finally, in 1941, Congress said the holiday is the fourth Thursday. That’s it, and it’s not moving.