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 formed in Germany and celebrated between 1731 and 1737.

The practice was brought to the United States by German immigrants, who introduced this holiday to Pennsylvania Dutch country. It is observed annually on September 24th.

The History of Schwenkfelder Thanksgiving

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

The Thanksgiving holiday that is celebrated in November would not actually be practiced as we know it until the Civil War. While it is true that the Pilgrims had a Thanksgiving celebration in 1621, some 112 years before Schwenkfelder followers held their celebration, it was not a holiday that was celebrated continuously from that date onward.

The Pilgrims did not regularly practice Thanksgiving and would instead practice fasting. It would not be until 1789 that George Washington proclaimed the first U.S. Thanksgiving. However, even these celebrations were practiced inconsistently. It was not until 1863 that Abraham Lincoln declared 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. Schwenkfelder Thanksgiving, however, has remained on September 24th 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, many more foods have been added to the list. You can observe this holiday by having a feast of turkey, squash, and all the fixings.

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

When is it?
This year (2024)
September 24 Tuesday
Next year (2025)
September 24 Wednesday
Last year (2023)
September 24 Sunday
Culture & History