Knowing Thanksgiving will be on a Thursday each year makes planning around the holiday that much easier. 

Holidays like Christmas are associated with a specific date each year, though the day of the week will change annually. 

Thanksgiving, however, always falls on the same day of the week, but the date varies. 


Thanksgiving has been this way since 1941. Before this, the holiday was traditionally held on the last Thursday of each November.

In 1939, however, the last Thursday of the month was also the last day of the month. 

President Roosevelt was concerned that this would shorten and hurt the Christmas shopping season, so he issued a proclamation that Thanksgiving would occur on the second to last Thursday of November instead.

The decision was controversial, and in 1941, the House and Senate passed a resolution saying that Thanksgiving would occur on the fourth Thursday of November. 

This would thereby maintain the Christmas shopping season during years when November had five Thursdays.

So, why was Thanksgiving given a Thursday date versus another day of the week? 

The reason for this aspect of the holiday is a bit unclear. 

Stuffed Turkey for Thanksgiving Holidays

Historians believe that Thursday was chosen because it was one of the more convenient days of the week to have an annual feast. For the early Puritan settlers, Sunday was the Sabbath.

 It’s likely that the early days of giving thanks were purposely scheduled not to interfere with the Sabbath. 

Also, Fridays were commonly days of fasting, making them inconvenient feast days, too.


Since ministers would often give lectures on Thursdays in the New England area, Thursday seemingly became a convenient day for Thanksgiving. As the years went by, it became a tradition. 

By the time George Washington issued a proclamation for the day of Thanksgiving, Thursday had already been associated with feasts of that nature.

The days leading up to and following Thanksgiving have also been associated with various events. The Wednesday before Thanksgiving, Thanksgiving Eve as most refer to it, has become a widely celebrated party day of the year. 

But why? It marks the start of a four-day weekend for many Americans, and it is also a day to get together with friends without separating from family just yet. The day before Thanksgiving has been dubbed by many as “drinksgiving” due to the festivities of the evening.

friends toasting beer

As for the Friday following Thanksgiving, there’s no time to waste the second the clocks strike midnight. 

Black Friday traditionally occurs in the early hours of the day after Thanksgiving. Shoppers can expect massive deals from corporate to boutique stores to officially kick off the holiday shopping season. 

Though Black Friday shopping still remains rather popular, many deals start days to weeks before the Friday and last well into the days following. There’s also semi-new Cyber Monday, which occurs the Monday after Thanksgiving. Online shoppers can expect deals via the internet rather than in-store.


In addition to Thanksgiving shared among families, groups of friends often partake in “Friendsgiving.” 

Friendsgiving, as the name implies, is a Thanksgiving meal with friends. 

There is no set date, so friends typically work around their schedules to accommodate the best day to get together for drinking and dining.

Michael Hollan contributed reporting.

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