It's funny how you can set your calendar to certain holidays because they never change. New Year's Day is always January 1, much like Independence Day is always July 4 and Christmas is always December 25. But much like the holiday coming up this week, there are others with a little more wiggle room. Why is it that some days are always locked in on a specific date, and others are not? Thanksgiving comes to mind, obviously, but we'll get to that later.
Parade magazine reminds us that Memorial Day is a day to honor all men and women who have died in military service. It always falls on the last Monday in May. Why? Believe it or not, it was indeed designed that way to offer federal employees a three-day weekend, thanks to the Uniform Monday Holiday Act, which according to History, took effect in 1971. How the rest of us non-federal employees ended up getting in on this, no one knows, but I'm sure no one is complaining.
Commemorating "veterans of all wars" it is ALWAYS on November 11, the date signaling the end of the first World War in 1918.
The first Monday in September was selected for Labor Day because if you're going to give workers a day off for their hard work, do it on the most miserable day. Actually, a railroad strike on September 5, 1882, led to that selection.
Thanksgiving is the fourth Monday of November (not necessarily the "last")
Journal Now says that In 1789, George Washington unofficially proclaimed November 26 a "day of prayer and thanks." It was never a national holiday until 1863, when according to KCCI, via Delish, Abraham Lincoln made it so. At that time, it actually was the last Thursday of November. President Ulysses S. Grant changed it to the third Thursday of the month in 1869, but believe it or not, in between the two came President Andrew Johnson, who made it the first Thursday of the month! In 1939, President Roosevelt came along and changed it to what it is today: "the fourth Thursday in November". This week happens to be the last Thursday of November, but in some years, that's not the case (2018 most recently, when there was an extra Thursday), so in 1941 a uniform designation was officially made.
It also was done in part for the retail industry. Yes, the National Dry Goods Association pressed for a longer holiday shopping season, pushing Thanksgiving a little earlier.
There are others, obviously, but due to time and space, I will leave them out. Enjoy your holiday and I hope you've learned something about why we're celebrating.
Legacy Stone House in Winterset