In 1863, President Lincoln declared the last Thursday in November to be a day for “thanksgiving and praise.” It’s a tradition that managed to stay that way until 1939 when worried retailers begged President Franklin Roosevelt to make Thanksgiving a week earlier because, that year, the last Thursday of November fell on the 30th — meaning there’d be only 24 shopping days until Christmas. Sympathetic to their plight, FDR declared Thanksgiving to be the fourth Thursday in November. Congress made the change official in 1941. And now you know why Thanksgiving never falls on November 29 or 30.
The bottom line: The change was cosmetic — businesses found that Christmas shoppers didn’t spend more; they just altered their shopping patterns.
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