10 Ways The History Of Thanksgiving Is Nothing Like You Imagined

1. FDR Changed The Date To Increase Holiday Profits

Photo credit: Library of Congress

Thanksgiving went through one more change in 1939, when Franklin Delano Roosevelt changed the date—purely so that people would spend more money on Christmas presents.

President Roosevelt realized that people didn’t start shopping for Christmas presents until Thanksgiving was over. He figured that if Thanksgiving was a week earlier, people would start shopping earlier and end up spending more money. And so he moved Thanksgiving from the last Thursday in November to the second-last Thursday, purely to boost the economy.

People were furious. They started calling his date “Franksgiving,” and some states refused to recognize it. Alf Landon, who had run against FDR in 1936, even declared that changing the date of Thanksgiving made Roosevelt “a Hitler.”[10]

It actually worked, though—people did spend more money, and the economy did improve. In the end, Roosevelt got everyone to calm down by switching the date again, now declaring that Thanksgiving would be on the “fourth Thursday in November” but “never on the month’s last two days,” which was confusing enough that nobody bothered to argue about it.

Prev11 of 11Next

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *