Happy 400th Thanksgiving!

Yes, 2021 is the 400th Thanksgiving. The first one was in 1621.

If the first was in 1621, this one would be number 401, not 400.

Sorry.

Also, happy Thanksgiving!

Obviously we started counting from zero after we initialized the Thanksgiving variable.

Actually, this is the 400th because we didn’t have a 2020 Thanksgiving because of the pandemic.

So it’s the 400th anniversary, for sure.

But it probably isn’t the 400th Thanksgiving in America. Days of “Thanksgiving” were fairly common in the colonies and on into the 18th Century, but they were local, and usually by church/pastor declaration among congregants.

In 1789, George Washington tried to do a national proclamation for a national Thanksgiving Day but (and this should surprise no American) there was much hue and cry over this; people were used to churches, towns, cities and maybe colonial governors declaring a day of Thanksgiving, but how dare the Federal Government try to impose one on people! No mandates!

So Washington basically told the states to definitely go forward with their days of Thanksgiving as they saw fit to do. And states did. By the 1820s or so, most states had some sort of Thanksgiving Day that sort of took over for Evacuation Day. (No really, that was a thing – the day the last Redcoats left the newly-free American colonies from New York in 1783; today Thanksgiving only becomes evacuation day when the turkey is undercooked.) And Evacuation Day was celebrated on the 25th of November…so yeah. Thanksgiving in November. On the 25th. At least in some places anyway!

But that wasn’t great as far as holidays went – a holiday that could land on any day of the week on the 25th of the month just 30 days before Christmas hit on the same day of the month of December just caused issues, so Thanksgiving wasn’t universally adopted across the growing country, and it wasn’t a national holiday. (And in some locales there were 2 or 3 – or more – Thanksgiving days each year, too!)

And then came 1863, and the Confederate invasion of the North and the Union victory at Gettysburg. And President Lincoln decided that the ill-defined “Day of Thanksgiving” in many states that was kind of ignored should be celebrated with more gusto this time since the Union should be very thankful that they had perhaps turned the corner on the rebellion. And thus he issued a Thanksgiving proclamation for a national day of Thanksgiving. As in, National holiday, yo.

But even then Thanksgiving as a national holiday didn’t really start to catch on until almost the 1870s or so, as Reconstruction was winding down. But then it did finally hit: President Grant fixed the date as the last Thursday in November. And gradually the holiday started to catch on.

So now: flash forward to 1939. The last Thursday of November that year was November 30th. And a group of national retailers begged FDR to move Thanksgiving up a week to get folks started on Christmas shopping a week early.

FDR thought that a capital idea, and moved up Thanksgiving in 1939 to November 23rd. But that created confusion for 1940. Which Thursday would Thanksgiving hit on that year? FDR decided to fix it in post, and created a new proclamation setting Thanksgiving Day as the fourth Thursday in November, and so it was done and so it has been since.

Oh! And the whole association with Pilgrims and indigenous Americans at the Plymouth Colony – while a real thing that happened – was essentially wallpapered over Lincoln’s original reason for Thanksgiving so that Southern states wouldn’t throw a hissy fit about it.

Whoa. That’s a long time ago.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone.

Hoping everyone had a pleasant holiday in the manner that they prefer.

Quality content. Bravo!

Evacuation day earned a hearty guffaw from this stuffed turkey.

Happy Thanksgiving, Qt3!