Whether you’re hosting the biggest food day of the year, traveling to be with extended family, or thinking about letting a professional cook the feast, early planning will save you money and a whole lot of hassle. We all know that — but it seems like every year on the Monday after Thanksgiving, we’re all also thinking to ourselves, I shouldn’t have brought that extra pie home … and next year Thanksgiving won’t sneak up on me.

So, what day is Thanksgiving on in 2019? If you’re checking the calendar time and time again, chalk it up to a date that moves around so much from year to year (and not senility). Last year it was November 22 — and this year it’s almost a whole seven days later!

Thanksgiving is always held on the fourth Thursday of November. This year, Thanksgiving is on November 28, 2019.

Why is it always on the fourth Thursday of November?

In 1863, Abraham Lincoln proclaimed that November 26 would be a national day to ask God to bless the family members who had lost loved ones in the Civil War — as well as give thanks for the Union Army win at Gettysburg. He declared that a national day of thanks-giving would be observed on the last Thursday of November every year thereafter. It’s thought that he chose that particular day because the first national day of gratitude — called for by George Washington to mark the nation’s triumph in The Revolutionary war —was Thursday, November 26, 1789. It wasn’t until 1939 that Franklin D. Roosevelt moved it to the second-to-last Thursday to allow for more shopping time between the holiday and Christmas, which he believed would bolster the retail sector.

So why do we celebrate Thanksgiving?

Lincoln was the first president to make the holiday a national observance. But many of the northern states (and colonies before the American Revolution) celebrated periods of fasting and feasts meant to give thanks to God for having surmounted hardships. Our modern holiday is modeled on the harvest feast held by the Pilgrims in 1621, which many have noted was not what then would have been considered a religious thanksgiving. It was attended by members of the Wampanoag tribe — who came bearing much of the food and like most Native American tribes had their own long-standing tradition of harvest celebrations. In fact, there was so much food that the revelry lasted for three days. So sitting down to a big plate of yet more leftovers on the Saturday after Turkey Day isn’t overkill, it’s the tradition.

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