President restores Thanksgiving to original date (5-20-41)

The Pittsburgh Press (May 20, 1941)


Chief executive frankly admits that experiment which he tired at request of retail merchants has failed to improve business

Washington, May 20 (UP) –
President Roosevelt decided today that his experiments in changing the date of Thanksgiving have been a failure and that beginning in 1942 the holiday again will be established on its traditional date – the last Thursday in November.

The President said that Thanksgiving Day this year will be proclaimed for the next to last Thursday in November because it is now too late to revise previous commitments to calendar markers and other groups.

But next year, he said, he will proclaim Thanksgiving Day for the final Thursday of November, the day on which the holiday had been celebrated until 1939 when he changed.

Admits failure

The President was frank in admitting that his shift in dates had proved a failure. He described it as an experiment – an experiment that did not work.

His original move, he said, was made at the earnest solicitation of retailers and retail agencies who felt that Thanksgiving and Christmas fell too close together. By advancing the Thanksgiving date a week, they felt that retail sales could be increased considerably, he said.

Reports on survey

For some time, the President said, the Department of Commerce and the U.S. Conference of Mayors have conducted surveys to discover whether retail business actually had been assisted.

In general, they found that the large majority of retail stores reluctantly agreed that the change had not made much difference, he said. The personnel of the U.S. Conference of Mayors was about evenly divided in the controversy over the holiday date.

Accordingly, he said, he was concluding that the experiment didn’t work and shifting the holiday back to its old date.