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Thanksgiving; a short history

Thanksgiving has always been one of our favorite holidays. We love the coming together of family and friends over an amazing meal. This historic holiday has always meant so much to us, it’s a time to stop and reflect on the things we are grateful for in our lives. During this time of year people are willing to move mountains to see long lost family and friends, and to celebrate their time together.

PilgrimThanksgiving has always been synonymous with the first pilgrims who landed on Plymouth Rock. The day the pilgrims celebrated their first successful harvest in 1621 has always been revered as the first thanksgiving of the new world. However, Thanksgiving didn’t become a nationally recognized holiday until 200 years later.

It is because of the the writer, Sarah Hale, we have a nationally recognized holiday. For 36 years she wrote articles and letters pushing for the establishment of Thanksgiving as a nationally recognized holiday, on the same day, of the year for every state. In a letter to Abraham Lincoln she stated:

“You may have observed that, for some years past, there has been an increasing interest felt in our land to have the Thanksgiving held on the same day, in all the States; it now needs National recognition and authoritive fixation, only, to become permanently, an American custom and institution.”

During the height of the Civil War in 1863, President Abraham Lincoln heeded Sarah Hale’s advice, and Thanksgiving became a national holiday. Amidst all of the wreckage and heartache the American people had endured, a holiday of thanks was instilled. Lincoln declared the last Thursday in November to be dedicated as Thanksgiving Day. This was an act done to remind the American people, in the midst of tragedy, that there were still many things to be thankful for. The official document stated:

“It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and voice by the whole American people. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.”

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Thanksgiving remained on the last Thursday in the month of November for years, until the Great Depression. In 1939 FDR decided to change the national holiday to one week earlier to promote a longer shopping season before Christmas. His hope was that this extra week would help to increase revenue before the New Year.

In 1941 Congress finalized the date of Thanksgiving to the fourth Thursday in the month of November. This change was a compromise between Lincoln’s Thanksgiving, and FDR’s. Sometimes it is the last Thursday in the month, and sometimes it’s the Thursday before the last.

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Thanksgiving has gone through a lot of changes in the past, in order to finally become the holiday we love so dearly today. This year take the time to unplug and truly be thankful for the people you are with. At Bennion & Deville Fine Homes Inc., we have much to be thankful for this year and feel so grateful for the relationships we have built over the years in the Seattle residential real estate world.

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