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Thanksgiving history: fourth Thursday change

READ MORE: Thanksgiving history: fourth Thursday change
WILMINGTON -- People all over the country are getting ready for Thanksgiving on Thursday. But the actual day this holiday falls on used to cause some confusion. One president shook things up by changing the day people celebrated Thanksgiving. For years Thanksgiving had been on the last Thursday in November. But after some pressure from retailers in 1939, President Franklin D. Roosevelt said no more. Erin Boyle with the Lower Cape Fear Historical Society said, "In 1939, like in this year, there were five Thursdays, and having five Thursdays in November meant the last week of November couldn't be used for holiday shopping because Thanksgiving hadn't happened yet." Boyle says businessmen here in Wilmington shared the feelings of retailers across the country. Boyle said, "Store owners really wanted to have that extra week of holiday shopping so they asked him, because there was the economic depression, can we change the holiday and he said yes." Not until 1941 did congress pass a law officially declaring Thanksgiving to fall on the fourth Thursday of November. Don Blake has lived in this area his whole life. Although he doesn't specifically remember when these changes happened he surely remembers Thanksgivings here. Blake said, "There was always a turkey, there was always a ham, those were the primary meats. Potato salad and things that grew in the garden, grew on the farm." Blake's father and grandfather were both farmers who provided much of their own Thanksgiving feasts. Blake said, "Those who were not farmers had friends who were farmers. I was born and raised on a farm. All of our city friends came out prior to Thanksgiving to stock up on the groceries." Blake says one thing Thanksgiving always ensured, was plenty of time with the family. "We ate quite well," Blake said. "We didn't have a lot of money but we didn't need a lot of money to be happy." Blake said he remembers Wilmington being a shopping hub for the surrounding counties in the thirties and forties, much like today. So many store owners here got that extra week of shoppers coming through their stores.

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