Dear Crabby, Why is Thanksgiving Late this Year?

Dear Crabby, Why is Thanksgiving Late this Year?

Sincerely, Holly Day


Dear Holly,

A little known fact is that Thanksgiving is on the fourth Thursday of November, while most people assume it’s the last Thursday of the month. Normally, the fourth Thursday and the last Thursday are one in the same. But when you have five Thursdays in a month, it throws off the whole system. You may recall that Turkey Day seemed early last year … and it was. Still falling on the fourth Thursday, with November 1 being a Thursday, it fell on November 22 … offering one more week of shopping before the fat man slides down your chimney. Well, this year November 1 is on a Friday, placing the fourth Thursday on November 28, Black Friday on November 29, and Shop Small Saturday on November 30. And before the weekend ends, the month of December will have begun!

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But it used to always be the last Thursday. True. Back in 1939, President Roosevelt saw five Thursdays in November and moved Thanksgiving to the second to the last Thursday. It did not go over well with Americans. Then in 1940, when we had four Thursdays back on the calendar for November, Thanksgiving – still set for the second to the last – fell on the third Thursday. People screamed again. And Roosevelt spun it as a way to have more shopping time before Christmas and thus, he started the shopping craze that would become Black Friday.

After it happened again in 1941, Roosevelt – for fear of being stuffed like a turkey – made the final and permanent change. Thanksgiving will from then on be held on the fourth Thursday of the month and has been since 1942.

As we move forward, year-after-year, Thanksgiving will creep backwards on the November calendar giving us an extra day (two extra days next year due to leap year) of shopping before the big gift-giving holidays are upon us. And in about six years from now, I’ll get the question, Why is Thanksgiving early this year?

Happy Holidays Holly!

Sincerely, Dear Crabby


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Stuck in a rut? Need some biased advice from a crabby old baby-boomer? Read regularly by thousands and loved by some, Dear Crabby answers questions weekly to life's challenges. Send him a note at


  1. Mary C. Caughlin says

    Thanks so much for that Turkey day info. I never knew the history. Good going.

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