Whether you're hosting the biggest food holiday of the year or thinking about letting a professional cook the feast, early planning (especially this year) can keep you safe amidst the ongoing coronavirus pandemic this Thanksgiving.
So, when is Thanksgiving in 2020? If you find yourself checking the calendar again and again every year, don't worry – you're not losing it. Chalk it up to a date that moves around so much from year to year. Last year, it was November 28, but the year before that, it was a whole week earlier on November 22.
This year, Thanksgiving is on November 26, 2020.
Why does Thanksgiving always fall on the fourth Thursday of November?
We have a woman named Sarah Joseph Hale, a prolific writer who also coined "Mary Had a Little Lamb," to thank for the timing of Thanksgiving today. For 36 years (yes, you read that number right) she wrote newspaper editorials and letters to governors, presidents, and other politicians lobbying for Thanksgiving to become a national holiday. Her persistent campaign earned her the moniker "The mother of Thanksgiving."
In 1863, her hard work finally paid off. Abraham Lincoln designated the last Thursday in November as a national day to ask God to bless the family members who had lost loved ones in the Civil War — as well as give thanks for the Union Army win at Gettysburg. Historians believe that he chose that particular day because the first national day of gratitude — called for by George Washington to mark the nation's triumph in The Revolutionary War —was Thursday, November 26, 1789. James Madison and John Adams had also designated similar days of thanks, but it wasn't until Lincoln that it became a national holiday.
In 1939, Franklin D. Roosevelt moved Thanksgiving to the second-to-last Thursday. He hoped that would allow for more shopping time between the holiday and Christmas, to help bolster retail sales during the Great Depression. But in 1941, it was changed back to the last Thursday in November — the timing stuck this time around, and we've celebrated it that day ever since.
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