Thursday, November 24, 2011
When did Thanksgiving become a National Holiday?
The first Thanksgiving occurred in 1621 when the Pilgrims and Indians broke bread together to give thanks to the creator for a successful harvest. Most Americans are taught that this incident was the first Thanksgiving celebration. In reality, that one meal didn’t lead to a traditional holiday. It wasn’t a national celebration either because the colonies were still part of England at the time. No offense to our English ancestors, but most Brits didn’t much care what happened in the colonies.
As the years passed, however, more people celebrated Thanksgiving and remembered that first meal of Thanks between the Pilgrims and Indians. Still, no one celebrated an official Thanksgiving until America won its independence from England. In 1789, George Washington recommended and assigned Thursday, November 26th as a day to be devoted by the People “to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be…”
Despite the proclamation, Thanksgiving wasn’t a national holiday.
Thanksgiving didn’t become a national holiday until Abraham Lincoln took office prior to the Civil War. In an effort to pull the country together, in 1863, he declared the last Thursday of November Thanksgiving Day. The country gave thanks to those who gave their lives in the Noble cause. And it gave thanks to those who yet survived the war that threatened to divide America.
Since that day in 1863, every president since Lincoln recognized Thanksgiving. But recognizing a holiday doesn’t make it a national holiday.
In 1939, in an effort to extend the Christmas shopping season, President Franklin D. Roosevelt declared the third Thursday in November as a day to give thanks. His declaration was met with controversy. Then in 1941 Congress set the national holiday of Thanksgiving on the fourth Thursday of every November. And it has been a holiday ever since.
It is a day celebrated as the kick off to the Christmas season. A day spent in celebration with friends and family. A day to give thanks to God for his many blessings. And a day to thank the men and women serving in our armed forces for their tireless dedication and sacrifice to this great nation.
Thank you God for all the good in my life. Thank you for my family, my life, my health, and my home. Keep my family safe and healthy. And please watch over the men and women of our military. Hold them in your loving arms. Protect them. And keep them safe until they can return to their families.