Thanksgiving is celebrated every year on the 4th Thursday of November in the United States. Did you ever stop and wonder why that is?  Your kids probably have.  If they've been pestering you for an answer, you're in luck, because Mother Nature's got the low-down on why Thanksgiving is celebrated when it is:

The original harvest celebration that we now refer to as the first Thanksgiving occurred in the autumn of 1621 to celebrate the colony's first successful year. After the crops were harvested for the year, the Pilgrims in Plymouth, Massachusetts decided to hold a celebration to give thanks for their harvest. Writings from that time say Pilgrim leader William Bradford set a date late in the year. He invited members of a nearby Indian tribe to take part. That Thanksgiving celebration lasted three days.  

The Pilgrims didn't plan to establish a yearly Thanksgiving holiday, but as the American colonies grew, Thanksgiving celebrations were held in many towns and settlements.  

President George Washington proclaimed the first national day of thanksgiving in 1789, but it was president Abraham Lincoln who officially declared the last Thursday in November as Thanksgiving, beginning in 1863. Why?  It was during the Civil War, and Lincoln liked the idea of a holiday that celebrated family, religion, and community. Years later, President Franklin Roosevelt moved Thanksgiving to the third Thursday of November to create a longer Christmas shopping season, but many states refused to adopt this change.  For two years, Thanksgiving was celebrated on two different days around the country.  To end the confusion, Congress stepped in and decided to make Thanksgiving fall on the fourth Thursday in November.

Now you know.  Aren't you glad you asked!

Photo by loupiote

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