Happy Thanksgiving!

Learn about the history of Thanksgiving

Hallmark staff
History of Thanksgiving

The tradition of celebrating thanks dates back nearly 400 years to a three-day harvest festival celebrated in 1621 by the pilgrims and Native Americans at Plymouth, Massachusetts.

President George Washington issued the first national Thanksgiving proclamation in 1789, the year of his inauguration, and again in 1795. On Oct. 3, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln declared a national day of Thanksgiving to be observed on the last Thursday in November, and every president after Lincoln followed suit. In 1941, a joint congressional resolution officially set the date as the fourth Thursday in November.

The Hallmark Archives contain Thanksgiving cards that date back to the late 1800s, but Thanksgiving cards were not widely exchanged until the end of World War I.

Did you know?

  • Thanksgiving is always observed the fourth Thursday in November.
  • Hallmark made its first Thanksgiving cards in the early 1920s.
  • Industry-wide, Americans exchange about 12 million Thanksgiving cards each year.
  • More than 85 percent of Thanksgiving cards are mailed, the highest percentage for any season.
You Might Also Be Interested In…

Thanksgiving wishes

Stuck on what to write in a Thanksgiving card? Send warm wishes with our message ideas and writing tips.