Black Friday ... Seriously?

By Erin Quinn

I'm not one to do the Black Friday thing.

It's not that I don't love a good bargain, because I absolutely do. What I hate is rising before the sun, racing to Point A for the bargain that is only available for 2 hours and then trying to get to Point B for the same purpose and so on and so on. But the thing is, the line at Point A--because we all know there will be a line and that everyone else in the Black Friday World will be in it too--usually holds you hostage until your sale at Point B is either over or everything in a size that humans can actually wear is sold out.

But this year my 15 year old daughter really, really, REALLY wanted to go.

So with my two daughters, I began to map our journey. I flat-out refused to go anywhere near WalMart. I mean, come on, people DIE there on Black Friday. I did agree to Old Navy though and sure 'nuff, we found bargains. By 6:30 we had shopped like crazed sales monsters and were on our way to the Dick's Sporting Goods, then onto the mall where were able to finally get a Starbucks, take a breath and power on. By 9:30 we'd had 4 1/2 hours of it and we were stick-a-fork-in-me-I'm-done done.

All in all, it was a fun day with my girls but the whole venture made me think about how the Holiday season has devolved. I'm not talking about the religious factor, but the whole ball and wax. How did Black Friday become such a huge ordeal. Who's bright idea was it to start opening at 8am, then 7...6....5...4...3--midnight????? Seriously? And why? Why when almost everything that could be bought at the store could also be purchased online?

So where did Black Friday start and why do we support it? Apparently it's not such a new tradition and can be dated back to the 1960s, originating on the east coast. According to the "black" in the term came from stores moving their ledgers from red to black--as in ink on the books. Ironically, the term used for the biggest shopping day was first coined in the late 1800s after a Stock Market catastrophe. It went on to become associated with retail not only because of the red and black ink, but because of the horrific traffic as people rushed out after turkey day to buy, buy, buy. Historically, the official gift buying season was held to a hard and fast line on the Friday after Thanksgiving. No Christmas until Thanksgiving ends. Period.

However--and I found this so interesting--that changed when Franklin Roosevelt actually changed the date of Thanksgiving in order to accommodate the retailers with a bonus week. (Can you even imagine something like that happening today???) Due to poor planning and the late announcement of this holiday switch-a-rooney, Americans rebelled and continued to celebrate on the traditional date--calling Franklin's new Thanksgiving "Franksgiving"( However, a few years later the new Thanksgiving--4th Friday of November--"took" and has stuck since then.

What's funny--at least IMHO--is that all the shuffle-ball-change of Thanksgiving to accommodate the retailers was done out of a sense of politeness for the holiday. No stealing the turkey's thunder by trampling it with the gift buying. But look at the way things are now. How often do we see Christmas decorations in September? Christmas trees on display next to Halloween costumes? The unwritten rule which motivated Franklin Roosevelt to move a holiday doesn't even exist in the unwritten rule book anymore.

Anyway, I feel like I should have a survival t-shirt--I lived through Black Friday. Will I go again next year...well, only if I'm begged by a daughter. It was fun in a got-up-too-early-and-spent-too-much-money-on-my-wonderful-kids kind of way. But I'm thinking....maybe I can get Obama to move Black Friday to a Monday and see if we can get some extra holidays out of it.....

Hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving! Stay safe and remember what's important as the holiday season rolls in.

Erin Quinn
Haunting Warrior, May 2010


  1. What a great idea, Erin! If you start a petition to move Black Friday to Monday, I'll sign. I hate that it's encroached on Thanksgiving. I've never gone, truthfully. I wait till Cyber Monday! (Now if they switched it to Cyber Friday to accommodate moving the Friday to Monday, I'd be ok with that! My head's spinning...)

  2. We only have Boxing Day sales here in Canada, which I avoid, except for the year we bought our videocamera. If you have your heart set on something that braving the crowds and line-ups is worth, then it's fun!

  3. Interesting post Erin - had no idea that Roosevelt did that. I second Julia - I'm Canadian so we don't have a Black Friday here. But it does seem that once the shopping season starts every weekend there's a "Black Friday" or Saturday - for shopping - many stores stay open until midnight or even later to accommodate shoppers. I'm not really a fan of it all - just makes me anxious to be in the stores at this time of year - with the crowds and the X-mas muzak - ugh! And I find that people are pushy, graspy, grumpy (and all the other dwarves) when shopping at this time of year.

  4. Erin, this was absolutely delightful!! And in its funny tone, totally poetic. I breathed a sigh of relief when I read about your Starbucks break. I have to admit it's one of my will-never-give-it-up indulgences. And I could literally smell the coffee in that paragraph.

    Yes, Black Friday... No longer probably even politically correct as a phrase and more important than Thanksgiving in the US, it was something that took me years to wrap my head around when I moved here. In NYC, it's a contact sport, but can't say it was much better when I lived in LA... Just more of a 'Go Carts' event there, in the parking lots of the stores...

    Thanks so much for sharing this and for making me smile while reading your lovely descriptions. Too many to list, lets just remember your fantastic " I flat-out refused to go anywhere near WalMart. I mean, come on, people DIE there on Black Friday." Kudos for a great, great piece! Happy Holidays to you! Nina

  5. Thanks everyone for your comments. It was a fun piece to write--learned something I didn't know about the history of it. :)

    Hope you all have a wonderful holiday season wherever you are and however you celebrate!!!!

  6. Joanna - 'and all the other dwarves' - LOL!


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