Tonight, on the eve of our most greatest holiday (an evening where millions of Americans are blindly wandering the aisles of package stores to guess at what type of wine most effectively combines cheapness with not looking cheap, to bring to their family dinners tomorrow), I am taking a moment to flashback to 2007, on the way to flashing back to the 1930s. I somehow became aware of the historical footnote that was FDR’s unsuccessful attempt to change the date of Thanksgiving, and wrote about it on my previous blog. This year, I am thankful that I wrote a bunch of stuff no one really bothered reading, so that I can just repost it:
Some of the best holidays are the kind that you make up yourself. I certainly know this, and commemorate Kneecap Day annually in honor of my connective joints. FDR knew it too, and between 1939 and 1941 tried to get everyone to celebrate Thanksgiving a week earlier to boost retail sales. Had he succeeded, Turkey Day would be this Thursday. Unlike Social Security or fancy cigarette holders though, this is one of his ideas that didn’t quite catch on. Everyone made fun of it, derisively referring to the usurped holiday as ‘Franksgiving’ and sending him tons of hate mail. Evidentially, at the time, the date of Thanksgiving wasn’t fixed on the calendars, and a Presidential proclamation was needed to make it official as a public holiday. Roosevelt was asked by some retailers to move it up a week on the logic that people would shop more if there was more time between then and Christmas, and he agreed with this idea. Chaos ensued. Schools that had already scheduled vacations or football games all independently decided whether to keep or alter their plans. Businesses which had based their Novembers around a November 30th Thanksgiving had to reorganize everything. Calendar makers wet their pants. Furthermore, by the time November came around that year a bunch of states had decided to go against the President and celebrate the last Thursday as Thanksgiving, so someone traveling to another state to see their family might have the wrong week off. This national freak-out went on for 2 more years before New England, which gave our nation the holiday, threatened to take it away and the traditional date was reestablished formally by an act of Congress.