Move Thanksgiving to October

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.[36] 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.


  1. Katydid says

    Speaking of Christmas coming too early: last weekend the MAGA neighbor set up their annual Christmas decorations to rival the National Lampoon Christmas. I suspect their lights can be seen from the ISS Space Station. Sometimes they “forget” to turn off their regrettable Christmas music overnight, as well.

    Yes, their Christmas set-up goes up before Thanksgiving. This year the weather is unexpectedly mild so it’s even more ludicrous. Why do they do this? Because they insist Christmas is “under attack by the libruls”, of course.

  2. sonofrojblake says

    I suspect their lights can be seen from the ISS Space Station

    The International Space Station Space Station? 😉

  3. Pierce R. Butler says

    LMFTFY: … nowadays retailers have started promoting Christmas well before Thanksgiving Halloween…

    I can see all the little kids in costumes running from door to door, shouting “Trick or Turkey!”

  4. rojmiller says

    I’m Canadian, and having Thanksgiving in early October seems ideal, both weather-wise and for the retail folks (our Thanksgiving is always the second Monday in October). That way retail switches right after Thanksgiving (with some overlap) to Hallowe’en, and right after Hallowe’en to Christmas.

    But if the US moved Thanksgiving to late October, wouldn’t that conflict with Hallowe’en? And, what’s up with a Thursday holiday? Where did that come from?

  5. moarscienceplz says

    I had always assumed the 1621 thanksgiving celebration was on a Thursday and thus was the reason, but apparently not:
    “That first Thanksgiving meal that the Puritans had with the Womponoag Indians way back in 1621? We don’t know if that was on a Thursday. In fact, it wasn’t even a single meal on one day. It was a three-day celebration. And it likely took place in mid-October, not late November.
    That first celebration wasn’t repeated the next year and every year thereafter on the same day. However, days set aside for giving thanks were a tradition in many parts of England. They were continued by Englishmen who moved to North America. The dates of these celebrations were often set by church leaders. These leaders often chose Thursdays, likely because it didn’t interfere with church services.”
    So according to, that MAY be the reason. *shrug*

  6. says

    If Thanksgiving is shifted to October, that will very likely result in full-on Christmas hype getting turned up to 11 much earlier too. Not sure I like that idea…

  7. Katydid says

    Edit splice issue; had written ISS, wasn’t sure people would get the acronym, spelled it out, hit the backspace key to delete ISS and ended up deleting International. ha-ha

  8. ionopachys says

    I whole heartedly agree with Raging Bee. What’s the point in having a holiday when it’s just the end of long season. Plus, with “spooky season” starting mid September it makes entire last quarter of the year into one long “holiday,” which then makes the first part of the year really drag.

    If it were to move, Thanksgiving should probably be around the Fall equinox.

  9. jrkrideau says

    @ 4 rojmiller
    ur Thanksgiving is always the second Monday in October

    It is? I was wondering about that. I often have to remind myself that a holiday is coming up. Even as a child i was never much of a fan of it. Xmas with the party after midnight mass was always a lot better as a child.

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