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The first thanksgiving was celebrated in 1621 between the pilgrims and the friendly natives of the Wampanoag tribe. The first Thanksgiving lasted for three days and included various games. The Governor of Plymouth Colony at the time of the first thanksgiving was William Bradford. In the early days it was not an annual event, but an event to celebrate successful harvests.
Did you know that the Canadians also celebrate Thanksgiving? They have their Thanksgiving on the second Monday in October.
George Washington was the first president to declare Thanksgiving a National Holiday.
President Abraham Lincoln made Thanksgiving an annual holiday to bring the country together.
Do you know about all the scuttlebutt that was created when Franklin D Roosevelt changed Thanksgiving? World War II had just erupted and our nation had been suffering from a depression for almost a decade. The US economy continued to look bleak in 1939.
When US retailers begged FDR to move the holiday back a week since there were five Fridays leaving only 17 store shopping days for Christmas, he agreed. FDR thinking this would be a small change was sure surprised when a huge roar went across the nation in rebellion.
The new date caused confusion. Calendars were now incorrect, schools had planned vacations and tests and now had to reschedule. Thanksgiving was the big day for football games just like today. The game schedules had to be reexamined.
Many believed changing the holiday just to appease businesses was not a sufficient enough reason. The Atlantic City Mayor derogatorily called it “Franksgiving”. The states that followed FDR’s change numbered 23 while 23 disagreed and kept the original date. By the way the date for Thanksgiving that year was the November 23rd.
Colorado and Texas decided to honor both dates. Now that sounds like a good deal, two meals! The idea of two Thanksgivings was also a problem because some members of families had different days off work splitting up the holiday.
One of the big questions was did more shopping days help the retailers, did people spend more? The answer is no. But the distribution was different. For the states that did it early the shopping was evenly distributed. The states that did not do it had bulk shopping all in the last week before Christmas.
In 1940, FDR once again announced that Thanksgiving would be the second to last Thursday of November. This time 31 states followed and 17 kept the traditional date.
The confusion continued.
The holiday that was intended to bring our nation together was tearing it apart.
Congress fixed the problem. On Dec. 26, 1941 congress passed a law declaring that Thanksgiving would occur every year on the fourth Thursday of November.
I hope everyone has a great Thanksgiving this year and that you get to spend time with family and friends.
The Annual community Thanksgiving Dinner at the Poteau High School Cafeteria (Bob Lee Kidd Civic Center) is from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. A traditional meal of turkey and dressing, mashed potatoes, corn, green beans, cranberry sauce, hot rolls, and a variety of deserts will be served. There is no charge for the meal.
Until next week…