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Meet the Mother of Thanksgiving, Philadelphia's Sarah Josepha Hale

This Thursday, as you get ready to shop, cook, and overeat four different types of pie (or is that just me ;), I want you to remember not only the Pilgrims and Wampanoag Tribe who celebrated the first Thanksgiving in 1621, but also the woman who helped make it a national holiday.

Sarah Josepha Hale MOther of Thanksgiving

Sarah Josepha Hale

Sarah was a Ben Franklin type, with far too many accomplishments to list here, but her greatest legacy was being editor of the Godey's Lady's Book, the most widely distributed magazine of the mid-1800's. The Philadelphia-based magazine was the only one of its kind and had a HUGE influence over American culture and trends. Hale served as editor from 1837-1877, an incredible 40 years. 

Give Thanks Thanksgiving Card

But back to Thanksgiving...

The first Thanksgiving may have been celebrated in 1621, but for more than 200 years, it was not an official US holiday and had no set date. Depending on what state you lived in, you might not have even celebrated it. But Sarah was born in New Hampshire, where Thanksgiving was a big thing and she wanted it to become a holiday for everyone in the county. She used her influence as editor of Godey's Lady's Book to promote its importance and wrote letters to government officials about it for over 20 (!!!) years.

President Lincoln makes Thanksgiving a National Holiday

Lincoln Declares Thanksgiving a National Holiday

In 1863, President Abraham Lincoln was either sick of hearing about it or convinced, because just 5 days after receiving Sarah's letter, he made an official declaration making the last Thursday in November a nationally observed holiday. The country was in the midst of the civil war and Lincoln hoped celebrating Thanksgiving would “heal the wounds of the nation.” Except for a brief period from 1939-1940, when President Franklin Roosevelt tried to move Thanksgiving up a week to extend the holiday buying season, Thanksgiving has been celebrated at the same time ever since.....

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Do you have a favorite Thanksgiving tradition? Tell me about it in the comments! 


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