I would like to take a few minutes to wish all of you a Happy Thanksgiving!
This year we celebrate our truly American holiday in entirely different fashion. I hope you remember how much we have in common with those Pilgrims who we credit for holding the first Thanksgiving almost 400 years ago as they gave thanks to God for homes, health, family, friends, and those who had helped them.
If you would like to read about some of the history of this great holiday, and some of the early celebrations in Indiana, I have attached an article I wrote for the Community News this week.
Again, have a happy and safe Thanksgiving!
Thanksgiving in Indiana
Elementary school students have learned for decades about the first Thanksgiving feast that was celebrated at the end of harvest season in October, 1621 by the 53 Pilgrims and 90 Wampanoag. We remember that the Pilgrims had suffered from much sickness and scarcity their first year here in America. Perhaps as a child (or your children) you made hats at school, did plays, and actually made a “feast” in the classroom to bring the history to life. How much did we ever learn about how this celebration came to be observed in Indiana or why it is observed on the fourth Thursday in November?
While states had various celebrations and over the years different dates had been used as days of Thanksgiving, in 1837 Indiana Governor Noah Noble proclaimed December 7th as the holiday. Two years later Indiana Governor David Wallace proclaimed Thursday, November 28th to be an official Thanksgiving Day for the state. In his proclamation he asked citizens to show gratitude for their good harvest and health.
By 1857 the last Thursday in November was being observed in many areas. In 1863 President Lincoln declared a proclamation for the last Thursday in November to be a National Holiday.
One hundred years after Governor Wallace had made the Thanksgiving Holiday the last Thursday in November, it fell on the 30th. Business owners were concerned about the late start to their best season of the year. Not only was the depression ending, but at that time advertising goods for Christmas before Thanksgiving was not appropriate. President Franklin D. Roosevelt was persuaded to declare the holiday a week early, on the 23rd. This not only made calendar makers upset, but also school officials, factory managers, churches, and all others who had already made plans for the holiday being on the 30th. As a result, many communities stuck with the original date. There were at least three communities in Indiana that went with both, and city workers got the day off on both dates. With 1939 being a year of two Thanksgivings, in 1941 the holiday was changed by President Roosevelt to the fourth Thursday in November, which guaranteed that it could never come any later than November 28th.
This year will go down in history, too. While we will be observing Thanksgiving differently this year than we have in the past, let’s not forget why this holiday has been so important throughout the ages.
Written by: Janice McHenry