I started wondering about the "Black Friday" tradition this morning - when it started. I don't remember it as a child or as a young adult either, but it's now so ingrained into the social consciousness that a 3rd grader mentioned it during a lesson about "sights, smells, sounds, tastes and feels of Thanksgiving".
On the other hand, I don't go out to big, tumultuous sales because I cannot tolerate the crowds, noise or confusion. I don't want to get angry and push and shove and force my way through those who are doing the same. It's an anathema. So I'm not boycotting the stores, I'm boycotting the riots and postponing my shopping until I can be sure that I have a little personal space around me.
The idea of a huge shopping day on the day after Thanksgiving, which would begin the shopping for Christmas season, was around for some time. Witness the Macy's Thanksgiving parade--a huge publicity event, sponsored by a major department store, reminding everyone that Santa Claus was back in town, and taking orders from kids as to just what they wanted for Christmas. My home town always decorated for Christmas, strung colored lights across the downtown streets, and the stores started staying open on both Friday and Saturday nights, beginning the day after Thanksiving. And That Man (Franklin D. Roosevelt, if anyone doesn't already recognize of whom I speak) even moved Thanksgiving up a week, to the third Thursday, in order to extend the Christmas shopping season.
The term "Black Friday", however, I believe was coined much later. I don't remember when I first read about it as a merchant's term, meaning the first day he might get his store's balance sheet into black ink each year, but it wasn't until I was in my 30s or 40s, I am sure. The term itself goes all the way back to 1869 (the Fisk-Gould scandal), and Wiki claims it was first used in 1966 by the Philadelphia police to describe their problems with traffic that day.
I always figured it as a great day to stay home and avoid headaches. I should have finished my shopping by then, anyway.
I was making duck and dressing, wish I could have had wild ducks, but alas, those are hard to find unless you hunt for them. But, as I was stirring the dressing I thought, I should look up Black Friday on Wikipedia. Traditions have kind of been scattered to the 4 winds this year so, I guess new traditions are in order. I try not to go out any this weekend, Atlanta traffic is bad enough, but mix in stores opening at 4AM or sales from 4 to 1 make it even more horrific.
I don't shop on black friday. EVER.
In Austin, in the early 1970s, I used to go to Highland Mall to see the decorations and "enjoy" the much-smaller crowds. Not to actually shop. Haven't shopped on the day after T-day for a long time, largely because I'm still recovering from T-day. But it's not a philosophy; it's a choice based on my level of energy. Noise and crowds suck it away.
It's not a philosophy for me... it's that the thought gives me the screaming heebie-jeebies.
2008-11-29 03:04 pm (UTC)
I'm a big fan! I've read most of your work and what got me started was when I was in hospital after my wife's Mustang tried to kill me... Sorry, that's a bit misleading: I'm referring to her car. We made a dash for British Columbia when we got word that her brother was dying. But on the way, we never stopped except for fuel and that led to a blood clot from my leg lodging in a lung...
I spent ten years in the Canadian military taking a strange path in the process. I joined the RCAF in '57 and was trained as a Radio Technician, a job that landed me in the Congo fracas for one tour. I was there when Hammasjkold was killed. Then, after getting out and attending University for my BSc (Biol) and BEd I went into teaching. A few years after that the military bug bit again and I joined the Army Reserves and, over several summers and many weekends ended up as a platoon commander. I served there for five years but not serving any tours due to family commitments.
So, with that background, you can maybe understand my enjoyment of your writing. Thank you for what you do. Incidentally, I was born on Friday the 13th in January of '39. I sometimes tell people that it was that event that precipitated WW2. Some of them believe it... ;-)
2008-11-29 05:42 pm (UTC)
Re: From Saskatchewan
My guess is that the Friday after Thanksgiving has traditionally been considered the beginning of retailers' holiday season sales push for a long time ... but it acquired greater recognition and awareness among the public and consumers and the media as the information age evolved?