When Is Thanksgiving 2023? Everything to Know

published Oct 17, 2023
We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.
Thanksgiving table with multiple dishes, one with cornbread stuffing, a platter with sliced turkey, a bowl of candied yams, bowl of green beans. Forks and glasses on table
Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Jesse Szewczyk; Prop Styling: Stephanie Yeh

At the pace this year has been moving, there’s no doubt that Thanksgiving is going to sneak up on us all. If you’re the type who benefits from planning ahead, having a solid list of Thanksgiving recipes to choose from can come in handy while rounding out your ideal dinner table.

Even those who throw caution to the wind by devising their game plan on Thanksgiving morning can still get most of what they need, thanks to the growing list of stores who keep their doors open for the holiday. Regardless of your style, the first step is figuring out which day Thanksgiving falls on this year.

Quick Overview

In 2023, Thanksgiving Is On November 23

Checking the calendar every year to figure out which day Thanksgiving falls on is just about as much of a tradition now as who gets to cut the turkey. If you struggle to keep track from year to year, you’re not alone. Last year, Thanksgiving fell on November 24, and this year it will be on November 23. The rule of thumb is that it always falls on the fourth Thursday of November. 

Why Does Thanksgiving Fall on the Fourth Day of November?

To give credit where credit is due, if it wasn’t for Sarah Josepha Hale, the prolific writer who wrote “Mary Had a Little Lamb,” Thanksgiving might not have ever become a national holiday. Hale, being a massive fan of the day, took it upon herself to write dozens of newspaper editorials and letters to politicians, governors, and presidents in a campaign that lasted almost four decades. Her lobbying attempts to make Thanksgiving a national holiday made so much noise that she eventually earned the title, “The Mother of Thanksgiving.” 

Days of Thanksgiving were originally celebrated by individual colonies and states for more than two centuries. In 1863, in the midst of the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln finally brought all of Hale’s hard work to fruition, naming a national Thanksgiving Day to be held each November. Despite being doused in controversy due to beliefs that Thanksgiving celebrations mask a very true history of oppression and bloodshed between European settlers and Native Americans, the holiday would eventually settle on the last day of November. According to historians, Lincoln was believed to have chosen that particular day in relation to the first National Day of Gratitude. Designated by George Washington to mark the nation’s win in the Revolutionary War, the first National Day of Gratitude was on Thursday, November 26, 1789.

For a brief period under the presidency of Franklin D. Roosevelt, Thanksgiving was moved in 1939 to the second-to-last Thursday of the month. The country was in the thick of the Great Depression and many retailers were barely making it by, so Roosevelt thought that the shift in timing would give people more time to shop before Christmas. Most Americans mocked Roosevelt for his decision, prompting the President to change it back to the last Thursday in November 1941, officially ending what was dubbed “Franksgiving,” and returning things to what we now know them to be.