When is Thanksgiving 2015, 2016, 2017? Why the fourth Thursday of November?

What day will thanksgiving be on in 2015? It’s already gone.

Thanksgiving has been observed in the United States on the fourth Thursday of November since 1942, meaning the holiday can be as early as Nov. 22 and as late as Nov. 28.

Thanksgiving in 2016 will be on Nov. 24. It will be on Nov. 23 in 2017.

Thanksgiving wasn’t always observed on the fourth Thursday of November. For decades, it was on the last Thursday of November. Then, for a short time, it was on the second to last Thursday.

Old Thanksgiving photo

Here’s the history of Thanksgiving in the United States, with the aid of information from the National Archives:

Nov. 26, 1789: President George Washington, in response to a request from Congress, declared this date a Day of Publick Thanksgivin [sic].

1790 – 1862: Presidents declared various days in various months as Thanksgiving.

1863 – 1938: In 1863, President Abraham Lincoln declared Thanksgiving as the last Thursday in November. This was followed for the next 75 years

1939 – 1941: President Franklin Roosevelt moved Thanksgiving to the second to last Thursday in November in 1939, in an effort to extend the shopping season before Christmas. Otherwise, the 1939 Thanksgiving would have fallen on the last day of the month, Nov. 30.

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