Friday, 24 November 2017


While we hope for our American readership that the family gathering presented an opportunity for constructive political dialogue and not abject avoidance of potentially incendiary topics that no matter how dicey do need airing, there was a time when the movable feast of Thanksgiving was itself an even more a divisive, partisan issue, as Atlas Obscura recalls.
With the US still recovering from the economic downturn of the Great Depression, president Franklin Delano Roosevelt conceded to the pressure of retailors, fearing a shorter Christmas shopping season had the tradition of proclaiming the last Thursday of the month of November to be a national day of thanksgiving been kept, and changed the date of the holiday. FDR’s decision caused disruption, as expected, and drew ire that followed party lines with twenty-two states celebrating the on the new date and twenty-three on the old date that year. The move garnered the president a lot of criticism with some claiming it represented an abuse of executive powers and earned sobriquets like the “New Deal Thanksgiving” or “Franksgiving,” an affront to the “Republican Thanksgiving” as Abraham Lincoln had intended it, with some states still observing the old style date until the mid-1950s.  As with most legislation, it took an act of congress to settle matters and align the whole country’s calendars.