In 1939, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt declared November 23rd,
the next-to-last Thursday of the month, to be Thanksgiving Day.
This break with tradition was prompted by requests from the National
Retail Dry Goods Association to extend the Christmas shopping season
by one week. Roosevelt had rejected the association's similar request
in 1933 on the grounds that such change might cause confusion. The
President's 1939 proclamation proved him more right than he probably
would have liked.
As always, the president's 1939 proclamation only directly applied
to the District of Columbia and federal employees. While governors
usually followed the president's lead with state proclamations
for the same day, on this year, twenty-three states observed Thanksgiving
Day on November 23rd, twenty-three states celebrated on November
30th, and Texas and Colorado declared both Thursdays to be holidays.
Football coaches scrambled to reschedule games set for November
30th, families didn't know when to have their holiday meals, calendars
were inaccurate in half of the country, and people weren't sure
when to start their Christmas shopping. The nation was again divided
over the date of Thanksgiving Day in 1940.