By Meagan Ozuna
We all know how Thanksgiving was created: a three day feast with the pilgrims and Indians. But what you don’t know is that it wasn’t an annual celebration. In fact, it was only celebrated for specific local events: ends of droughts, victories in battles, or after a harvest. The first national day of Thanksgiving wasn’t until 1789 when George Washington proclaimed Thursday, Nov 26 to be a “day of public thanksgiving and prayer.” So it became a national day but not an annual celebration.
It wasn’t until the Civil War that a lady by the name of Sarah Josepha Hale saw the holiday as a way to bring hope and belief into the nation and constitution. President Lincoln was looking for a way to bring the nation together, as well. Hale went to Lincoln with the idea for the use of Thanksgiving and on Oct 3, 1863 he declared that they would celebrate this holiday on last Thursday of November. This would be the first time it would have a specific date and be both a national and annual holiday. Over the next 75 years, future presidents kept the tradition going, until 1939 with President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
Because the last Thursday of November was the 30 Roosevelt changed the date to Nov 23, the second to last Thursday because there were many different businesses complaining that there were only 24 Christmas shopping days left and they hoped that with another week people would buy more. Spending stayed the same and not making a difference and only created confusion. Calendars were wrong, schools with planned vacations and tests and traditional football games had to be rescheduled. Many people thought that changing the date to appease businesses was wrong and the country soon became split on which Thanksgiving should be celebrated.
This confusion was continued for the next two Thanksgivings. It wasn’t until Congress finally passed a law declaring that Thanksgiving would be every year on the fourth Thursday of November. They agreed that previous date change was tearing the country apart when Thanksgiving was meant to bring the country together. And now that this became an annual holiday, traditions started to be created.
One of the most common traditions is enjoying a feast with your family and talking about what you’re thankful for this year. Basically, spending time with your family. Feasting may lead to everyone relaxing and taking a nap which usually prepares everyone for the traditional Thanksgiving football games. But you can’t forget about the traditional Macy’s Day Parade. While many families are coming together during this time there are others that are preparing for dreaded “Black Friday “festivities.
Now, “Black Friday” has been made an unofficial holiday, as it is due to the start of Christmas shopping. It wasn’t until the 1980s that the term earned a positive meaning. Businesses stated that this was the day that retailers would historically come out of the red and were going into the black with the turn of their profits. And over recent years the term has turned into “Black Thursday” due to stores opening their doors at 10 pm on Thanksgiving Day. Because of this, “Black Friday” has quite possibly ruined the meaning of Thanksgiving.
Remember the meaning of this time is to give thanks to things or people in your life. It is meant to spend time with your families and take a break from your hectic life, not to start your Christmas shopping. It’s a time to eat until you get fat, watch the parade, enjoy the football games and just be with your family.