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Although many American presidents, including George Washington, had proclaimed thanksgiving day celebrations, the holiday bounced from date to date and month to month until 1863, when Abraham Lincoln proclaimed that the nation would celebrate Thanksgiving on the last Thursday of each November.
In 1939, during Franklin Delano Roosevelt's presidency, Thanksgiving Thursday fell on the last day of the month. Concerned about the still recovering economy, the Roosevelt administration pushed Thanksgiving up by a week, a move that would extend the holiday shopping season and potentially buoy the retail market. For two years, the country grappled with this date change. While some states willingly switched to Roosevelt's date, others held onto Lincoln's.
In 1941, Congress came to a resolution - the country would celebrate Thanksgiving on the fourth Thursday of November. This balances the holiday during years when November has five Thursdays.
So that families can celebrate Thanksgiving together this year, all state offices will be closed today and tomorrow. If you need assistance, you can visit government agencies when they reopen on Monday, November 26.
For more holiday fun, learn Thanksgiving facts, study different ways to cook a turkey, and read tips that will help you get through airport security for your trip home.