TRENTON — New Jersey and the nation celebrate Thanksgiving on the earliest day possible this year.

Thanksgiving was a holiday in the United States for the first time in 1789, when President George Washington signed a proclamation. It was celebrated off and on for the next 74 yearsm until Abraham Lincoln established the holiday on the final Thursday in November with a proclamation of his own in 1863.

President Franklin Roosevelt moved the holiday up a week in 1939 during the Depression to create a longer shopping period between Thanksgiving and Christmas as there were five Thursdays in the month that year. In 1940 and 1941, he moved it to the third Thursday of the month.

Some states did not agree, and so the day the holiday was celebrated was different from state to state; some on the third Thursday and others on the fourth.

Roosevelt signed a bill in 1941 that made Thanksgiving a federal holiday on the fourth Thursday of the month.

Here's what's open and closed during the holiday.


  • State (including MVC)
  • Federal offices
  • Federal and state courts
  • US Postal Service
  • Stock markets (trading ends at 1 p.m. on Black Friday)
  • FedEx
  • UPS
  • Public schools
  • Colleges and universities
  • Banks

NJ Transit will operate on a weekend/major holiday schedule on Thanksgiving Day  with extra rail service into New York for the Macy's Thanksgiving parade. Regular service will be offered on Black Friday with some morning peak period Northeast Corridor and North Jersey Coast Line trains not running.

Malls and retail stores are able to open but have varying hours.

Contact reporter Dan Alexander at or via Twitter @DanAlexanderNJ

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