When is Thanksgiving Day 2019?

Thanksgiving Day Traditions, Recipes, and History

December 1, 2018
When is Thanksgiving

When is Thanksgiving Day 2019? What do we celebrate this all-important feast day? Enjoy a brief history of this holiday, Thanksgiving trivia, delicious recipes, folklore, and more!

Thanksgiving Dates

Thanksgiving in the United States is always celebrated on the fourth Thursday in November. In Canada, Thanksgiving is celebrated the second Monday in October.

What day is Thanksgiving?
Year U.S. Thanksgiving Canadian Thanksgiving
2018 Thursday, November 22 Monday, October 8
2019 Thursday, November 28 Monday, October 14
2020 Thursday, November 26 Monday, October 12

U.S. Thanksgiving

Native American harvest festivals had been celebrated for centuries, and colonial services dated back to the late 16th century. In the early 1600s, settlers in both Massachusetts and Virginia came together to give thanks for their survival, for the fertility of their fields, and for their faith. The most widely known early Thanksgiving is that of the Pilgrims in Plimoth, Massachusetts, who feasted for 3 days with the Wampanoag people in 1621.

However, the first national holiday of Thanksgiving was observed for a slightly different reason—in honor of the creation of the new United States Constitution. In 1789, President George Washington issued a proclamation designating November 26 of that year as a “Day of Publick Thanksgivin” to recognize the role of providence in creating the new United States and the new federal Constitution. Washington was in his first term as president, and a young nation had just emerged successfully from the Revolution. Washington called on the people of the United States to acknowledge God for affording them “an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness.” This was the first time Thanksgiving was celebrated under the new Constitution.

While Thanksgiving became a yearly tradition in many communities—celebrated on different months and days that suited them—it was not a federal government holiday. Thomas Jefferson and many subsequent presidents felt that a public religious demonstration of piety was not appropriate for a government type of holiday in a country based in part on the separation of church and state.  While religious thanksgiving services continued, there were no further presidential proclamations marking Thanksgiving until the Civil War of the 1860s.

A Depiction of Thanksgiving Day, 1858, by Winslow Homer. Courtesy of the Boston Public Library.
A depiction of Thanksgiving in 1858, by Winslow Homer. Image courtesy of the Boston Public Library.

In 1863, President Lincoln made a proclamation marking Thursday, November 26, 1863 as Thanksgiving. Lincoln’s proclamation harkened back to Washington’s, as he was also giving thanks to God following a bloody military confrontation. In this case, Lincoln was expressing gratitude to God and thanks to the Army for emerging successfully from the Battle of Gettysburg. He enumerated the blessings of the American people and called upon his countrymen to “set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise.”

In 1939, President Franklin D. Roosevelt changed Thanksgiving from the fourth to the third Thursday in November! It was the tail-end of the Depression, and Roosevelt’s goal was to create more shopping days before Christmas and to give the economy a boost. However, many people continued to celebrate Thanksgiving on the fourth Thursday in November.

In 1941, to end any confusion, the president and Congress established Thanksgiving as a United States federal holiday to be celebrated on the fourth Thursday in November, which is how it stands today.

Of course, Thanksgiving was not born of presidential proclamations. Read about Sarah Josepha Hale, the “Godmother of Thanksgiving” who helped turn this historic feast into a national holiday.

Canadian Thanksgiving 

Note that Thanksgiving Day in Canada is celebrated on the second Monday in October and has different origins. The first Thanksgiving meal observed in what is now Canada occurred in 1578, when English explorer Martin Frobisher and his crew held a meal to thank God for granting them safe passage through the wilds of the New World.

Overall, the holiday is not as big of a deal in Canada. Canadians automatically get that Monday off in most parts of the country, but in Atlantic Canada (Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Newfoundland and Labrador), it’s an optional holiday. Many Quebecers don’t celebrate the holiday at all. 

Today, Canadians often visit with family and friends—though they don’t tend to travel as much or as far. The food is similar with pumpkin pie for dessert. Football is on the television. Many Canadians get outside for a nice hike or ramble in the woods. And everyone is thankful for the harvest!

Read more about the differences between Canadian and American Thanksgiving!


Why is Thanksgiving Celebrated With Turkey?

Turkey has become the traditional Thanksgiving fare because at one time it was a rare treat. During the 1830s, an eight- to ten-pound bird cost a day’s wages. Even though turkeys are affordable today, they still remain a celebratory symbol of bounty. In fact, astronauts Neil Armstrong and Edwin Aldrin ate roast turkey in foil packets for their first meal on the Moon. 

See all of our Thanksgiving trivia and fun facts!

Thanksgiving Weather Folklore

  • Turkeys perched on trees and refusing to descend indicates snow.
  • If the first snow sticks to the trees, it foretells a bountiful harvest in the coming year.
  • If sheep feed facing downhill, watch for a snowstorm.
  • Thunder in November indicates a fertile year to come.
  • If there be ice in November that will bear a duck, there will be nothing thereafter but sleet and muck.
  • As November 21st, so the winter.
  • When the winter is early, it will not be late.

Thanksgiving Poems and Quotes

Perhaps these poems and quotes will come in handy for your Thanksgiving card!  

Over the river and through the wood—   
Now grandmother’s cap I spy!        
Hurrah for the fun!        
Is the pudding done?   
Hurrah for the pumpkin-pie
–Lydia Maria Child

Orchards have shared their treasures,
The fields, their yellow grain,
So open wide the doorway–
Thanksgiving comes again

Ah! On Thanksgiving Day, when from East and from West,
From North and from South, come the pilgrim and guest,
What moistens the lip, and what brightens the eye?
What calls back the past like the rich pumpkin pie

J. G. Whittier 

“An optimist is a person who starts a new diet on Thanksgiving Day.” –Irv Kupcinet, American columnist (1912–2003)

“Radical historians now tell the story of Thanksgiving from the point of view of the turkey.” –Mason Cooley, U.S. aphorist 


    Thanksgiving Crafts

    Perfect for kids and great for decorating the home, these crafts are easy and fun!

    Thanksgiving Recipes

    Is it your turn to prepare the Thanksgiving meal? Here are a few of our favorite Thanksgiving recipes to give you some inspiration:

    We give thanks to you, our Almanac community, and wish you a Thanksgiving feast that is both filling and full of grace this year!

    What Thanksgiving traditions do you follow in your family? Let us know in the comments!


    The Old Farmer's Almanac


    Reader Comments

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    Thanks for the information.


    That American Thanksgiving story is a heck of a long way off from the real story of the first thanksgiving. The natives taught the pilgrims how to live off of the land their way, and how to grow their crops. time to harvest crops came, obviously in October in Canada, and November in the U.S. After harvesting the crops, pilgrims in what's now known as U.S.A invited natives to a dinner feast and slaughtered them. Washington was president long after the first thanksgiving, even if the slaughter part wasn't true (and it was). It's what they teach in school, or at least used to. They probably butter over it now to make things look better than they really were.

    When we change the way we look at things...

    Give thanks for healthy living and living according to God's plan. Give thanks!

    Thanks enjoy it.

    Thanks enjoy it.


    There is a need for thanksgiving; only GOD can make a nation great, when you remove God you are left with a shadow

    Do all States celebrate

    Do all States celebrate Thanksgiving Day on the fourth Thursday in November?

    Hi Stan, Yes, Thanksgiving in

    The Editors's picture

    Hi Stan, Yes, Thanksgiving in the U.S. has been a federal holiday on the fourth Thursday of November since 1941.

    Am so happy this year that my

    Am so happy this year that my eyes see thankginging again this year make god help us out aman

    I brought up a free calendar

    I brought up a free calendar on my IPad for 365 days a year. While looking up Holidays I ran across Thanksgiving. It was marked the 4th of November 2013 which is a Monday. Someone else had mentioned this date sometime ago. I told them No it is November 28, 2013. By the other responses here they say the same thing. Have you heard this date before, and do they mean 4 for the 4th Thursday?

    For the U.S. Thanksgiving: In

    For the U.S. Thanksgiving: In 1941 that Congress designated the fourth Thursday in November as Thanksgiving Day.
    Thanksgiving Day in Canada is celebrated on the second Monday in October. 

    The thanksgiving ceremony

    The thanksgiving ceremony first celebrated by the Pilgrims was in obedience to the Old Testament festival specified in Ex 23:16; Le 23:34; and De 29:12 Harvest festivals are common to agricultural societies and though the native Americans in attendance at that precedent setting feast also probably celebrated at the end of harvest, they were guests--not the hosts. Should we restore Biblical literacy, much of our nation's heritage would become easily understood.

    Amen. I agree with you 100 %.

    Amen. I agree with you 100 %.

    I am confused. It says

    I am confused. It says Thanksgiving is on the last Thursday of the month. But when it falls on the 22 it is not the last Thursday. so explain that plese..

    Nowadays, the rule is the

    The Editors's picture

    Nowadays, the rule is the "fourth Thursday of November," which is why in 2012 it falls on November 22.

    Before 1942, however, the date for Thanksgiving had a confusing history. The "last Thursday of November" was the rule from 1863 to 1939 (except in 1865, when President Andrew Johnson proclaimed the first Thursday in December as Thanksgiving Day, and in 1869, when President Ulysses S. Grant chose November 18, which was the third Thursday in November).

    In 1939, President Franklin D. Roosevelt moved the date to November 23, the next-to-last Thursday of the month, in order to lengthen the holiday shopping season and aid retail businesses. But this caused confusion, and only about half of the states used this new date, while the others kept Thanksgiving on the last Thursday (or celebrated it twice). In December 1941, President Roosevelt signed legislation that designated the fourth Thursday in November as national Thanksgiving Day, to take effect starting in 1942. The date has not changed since that time.

    because of leap year it made

    because of leap year it made november have 5 thursday normally it only has 4 thanksgiving so thanksgiving is on the 4th thursday. which is the 22nd.

    Thanksgiving falls on the

    Thanksgiving falls on the fourth Thursday in November not the last Thursday.

    This is the 4 th Thursday in

    This is the 4 th Thursday in November .We have a total of 5th Thursday in November this year.

    The last Thursday must be

    The last Thursday must be November the 35th I guess.

    No, we only have 4 Thursdays and Thanksgiving is the last Thursday this year.

    Fourth Thursday is not always

    Fourth Thursday is not always the LAST Thursday in any month. Article clearly states the fourth Thursday

    The ruling is the 4th

    The ruling is the 4th Thursday on the month of November, not the last if the month has five like in 2012 because the first of November was on a

    In Canada we make it simple always the second Monday of October and in some states it is Columbus day. Wish we in Canada had our own day and the US could move Colombus to the 3rd Monday. Look at Congress to make it complicated