Early on, the new U.S. Congress left Thanksgiving declarations to the states because some did not want the government to be involved in a religious holiday. Southerners did not want a New England custom and others did not want the day being used to hold speeches and parades. Yes, not unlike today’s controversies, the idea of “Thanksgiving Day” was heavily disputed.
Thanksgiving Day did not become an official holiday until the Northerners dominated the federal government. On Oct. 3, 1863, Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a National Day of Thanksgiving to be celebrated on Thursday, Nov. 26. In 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt issued a proclamation designating the fourth Thursday in November as Thanksgiving Day.
Thanksgiving Day has moved away some from its religious roots to allow people of all backgrounds to celebrate. For example, just about everyone thinks of parades, a huge turkey dinner and football games. Then, of course, many look forward to Black Friday shopping the following day.