Featured Content A national observance and celebration of giving thanks

Legislative Timeline:
  • 1789 – President George Washington called for a public day of thanks, which became a tradition in many communities
  • 1863 – President Abraham Lincoln declared the final Thursday in November as a national day of giving thanks, officially making the tradition an annual holiday
  • 1939 – In this year the last Thursday fell on the last day of the month. Marking the Great Depression, President Franklin Roosevelt moved the Thanksgiving holiday from the last Thursday in November to the fourth Thursday of the month to extend the holiday shopping season
  • 1941 – October Congress set the fourth Thursday in November as the fixed day for the holiday (H.J. Res. 41)

Source: U.S. National Archives and Record Administration’s website

To view H.J. Res. 41 and more legislative history, read “Congress Establishes Thanksgiving” on the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration’s website.

National Thanksgiving Turkey Presentation, "Pardoning the Thanksgiving Turkey" - A White House Tradition

On November 14, 1989, President George H.W. Bush was the first to actually offer a turkey pardon. He announced that year’s bird had “been granted a presidential pardon as of right now.” He sent the turkey on his way to the perhaps unfortunately named Frying Pan Park in Herndon, Virginia, and with that, a tradition was born.

This year's observance of the National Thanksgiving Turkey presentation is scheduled to take place Tuesday, November 21st, and marks the 70th anniversary of this transition.

From the White House, the turkeys go to their new home called "Gobblers Rest" at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Virginia.

Source: The White House

Read past Presidential remarks at Thanksgiving Turkey Presentations.