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Ever wonder why the holiday is celebrated on the fourth Thursday of the month? There’s a story in that.

Norbert Sparrow

November 23, 2023

2 Min Read
Miflippo/iStock via Getty Images

As we prepare to celebrate Thanksgiving and go on a food binge (followed by a shopping binge on Friday), PlasticsToday hopes that the gathering of the tribes around your table remains a peaceful, civilized affair. If we can get past the polarization for a minute, it’s undeniable that we have much to be thankful for and that we all have much more in common than what divides us, as someone once said.

For a singular plastics-centric perspective on the meaning of Thanksgiving, I recommend that you read Allan Griff’s November column, “Plastics Extrusion Professionals Deserve Thanks, Too.”

And if you’ve ever wondered, as I have, why Thanksgiving always falls on the fourth Thursday of the month, an article from NPR, first published in 2019, has the answer. It also reveals that the linkage with what we now call Black Friday has a fairly long history.

You may be surprised to learn that in 1939, two Thanksgiving holidays were observed, and that did not happen without friction. Until then, Thanksgiving was celebrated on the last Thursday of the month. November 1939 had five Thursdays, however, and some captains of industry asked President Franklin D. Roosevelt to shift “the date for the holiday . . . a week earlier to give people more time to shop for Christmas,” writes Tanya Ballard Brown on the NPR site. FDR acquiesced, but that “raised a hue and cry as many people felt that he was catering to large retailers.”

Long story short: Sixteen governors decided their states would celebrate the holiday on the last Thursday of the month, as had been customary. Two years later, Congress passed a law enshrining Thanksgiving on the fourth Thursday of the month.

And there you have the rest of the story, as yet someone else once said.

We’ll see you back here with news and insights on the plastics industry on Monday.

Until then, try to get along, and Happy Thanksgiving!

About the Author(s)

Norbert Sparrow

Editor in chief of PlasticsToday since 2015, Norbert Sparrow has more than 30 years of editorial experience in business-to-business media. He studied journalism at the Centre Universitaire d'Etudes du Journalisme in Strasbourg, France, where he earned a master's degree. Reach him at [email protected].

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