Today is Thanksgiving day in the US, the day when families and friends get together to share a traditional meal. There is some controversy over the holiday but what I am concerned about here is the date. The date of the holiday has changed over time, sometimes for purely commercial reasons.
From the time of the Founding Fathers until the time of Lincoln, the date of observance varied from state to state. The final Thursday in November had become the customary date in most U.S. states by the beginning of the 19th century. … Modern Thanksgiving was proclaimed for all states in 1863 by Abraham Lincoln [who] … set national Thanksgiving by proclamation for the final Thursday in November.
On October 31, 1939, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed a presidential proclamation changing the holiday to the next to last Thursday in November in an effort to boost the economy. The earlier date created an extra seven days for Christmas shopping since at that time retailers never began promoting the Christmas season until after Thanksgiving. But making the proclamation so close to the change wreaked havoc on the holiday schedules of many people, schools, and businesses, and most Americans were not in favor of the change. Some of those who opposed dubbed the holiday “Franksgiving” that year. Some state governors went along with the change while others stuck with the original November 30 date for the holiday, and three states — Colorado, Mississippi, and Texas — observed both dates. The double Thanksgiving continued for two more years, and then on December 26, 1941, Roosevelt signed a joint resolution of Congress changing the official national Thanksgiving Day to the fourth Thursday in November starting in 1942.
Since nowadays retailers have started promoting Christmas well before Thanksgiving, the rationale for keeping it as the fourth Thursday in November no longer exists and the dates of the two holidays can be decoupled.
I argue that it would make more sense to shift Thanksgiving to (say) the fourth Thursday in October. There are several advantages for such a shift. A big one is that this is one of the biggest travel periods of the year and the weather is much milder in October, making travel much less risky. There have been many Thanksgiving horror stories where massive snowstorms have shut down airports, grounded flights, and created hazardous driving conditions leaving many people stranded and utterly miserable. Another reason is that currently there is a long stretch of time, between the Labour Day holiday on the first Monday in September and Thanksgiving on the last Thursday in November, where there are no holidays. Having a holiday in October would provide a nicer break. Finally, Christmas is also a big family holiday and currently Christmas comes quickly after Thanksgiving, too quickly in my opinion.
So that’s my case for shifting Thanksgiving to October.