Schwenkfelder Thanksgiving

One of the oldest and longest continually-celebrated Thanksgiving celebrations in the U.S. is Schwenkfelder Thanksgiving. This Thanksgiving was first celebrated by a small Protestant sect that was formed in Germany and celebrated between 1731 and 1737.

The practice was brought to the United States with German immigrants and they brought with them this holiday to Pennsylvania Dutch country. It’s observed annually on September 24th every year.

The History Of Schwenkfelder Thanksgiving

Schwenkfelder Thanksgiving was brought to the U.S. when Schwenkfelder’s followers arrived in Pennsylvania in 1733. On September 22, 1734, the second group of them came over as well. That makes this holiday the oldest continuously celebrated Thanksgiving in the U.S.

The Thanksgiving holiday that’s celebrated in November wouldn’t actually be practiced as we know it until the Civil War.¬†While it’s true that the Pilgrims did have a Thanksgiving celebration in 1621, some 112 years before Schwenkfelder’s followers held their celebration, it wasn’t a holiday that was celebrated continuously from that date onward.

Pilgrims didn’t regularly practice Thanksgiving and would instead practice fasting. It wouldn’t be until 1789 that George Washington proclaimed the first U.S. Thanksgiving. However, even these celebrations were practiced inconsistently. It wouldn’t be until 1863 that Abraham Lincoln would declare the last Thursday in November as Thanksgiving.

In 1939, Franklin D. Roosevelt changed the holiday of Thanksgiving to the fourth Thursday in November instead of the last Thursday in November. Schwenkfelder Thanksgiving, however, has remained on September 22nd since it was founded.

Observing Schwenkfelder Thanksgiving

Schwenkfelder Thanksgiving was originally celebrated with a feast of butter, apple butter, bread, and water, but since that original Thanksgiving, a lot more foods have been added to the list. You can observe this holiday by having a feast of turkey, squash, and all of the fixings.

While you’re celebrating this holiday, you can also use the hashtag #SchwenkfelderThanksgiving on your social media posts for the day.

When is it?
This year (2023)
September 24 Sunday
Next year (2024)
September 24 Tuesday
Last year (2022)
September 24 Saturday
Culture & History