Bah Bah Black Friday

Black Friday Googles up 5,660,000 times. In fact, there are numerous Black Fridays. Financial markets tumbled on Black Friday, 24 September 1869. On Friday, 15 April 1921, British transport and rail union leaders refused to join the miners in strike, leaving them in the cold, politically.

On Friday 18 November 1910, a few hundred suffragettes were assaulted and arrested when they marched on the British House of Commons to protest against a filed motion to pass a bill allowing some women to vote.

And then, there is the Black Friday that follows Thanksgiving Day.

Being neither an American nor an overly deep US’o’phile, I was aware of the significance of Thanksgiving in general terms – apparently, it was proclaimed a national day of celebrations and signed by George Washington himself. I Googled over to find out that thanksgiving was set to glorify God’s blessing as he “secure[d] for these United States, the greatest of all human Blessings, INDEPENDENCE and PEACE,” as manifested in the US victory over the British in Saratoga, October 1777.

This day is of importance to Americans, and they celebrate it with gusto, in during large family get-togethers, they consume a vast number of roast turkeys with Bourbon mashed sweet potatoes, apple pies and apple breads and corn pudding – and other traditional thanksgiving foodies.

Thanksgiving is celebrated in the US on the fourth Thursday of November (Canadians celebrate in October.) Being neither an American nor an overly deep US’o’phile, I was even less aware of the significance of the day after thanksgiving – known as Black Friday. Black Friday (aka “Day After Thanksgiving” or “Blitz Day”) is recognised as the official beginning of the Christmas shopping season. “Black Friday” and “Christmas” Google up 1,040,000 times — a quick scroll indicates that most of the results relate to shopping.

The media follows the lead happily. Headlines like “All eyes on Black Friday”, “Area stores stock up for the ˜Black Friday’ storm“, “Black Friday lowers prices for favorite items” and “Survey: Black Friday shoppers will spend more green” serve up expectation and anticipation to both retailers and customers.

Love it or hate it, Black Friday (which, by the way, got it name from the nightmarish traffic jams experienced by shoppers http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_Friday_(shopping)) is a clever entrepreneurial ploy – since Thanksgiving Day falls always on a Thursday, one is assured that most Americans will opt for a long weekend. Creating ‘hooks’, in the form of special sales () and promotions (), that guarantee three days that are open for Christmas-inspired shopping.

But there is another angle to the story. Snopes – the net’s most comprehensive repository of urban legends and hoaxes argues that the claim that Black Friday is the biggest shopping day of the year in the US is noting more than an urban legend. (http://www.snopes.com/holidays/thanksgiving/shopping.asp). It also trashes the claim that the internet is taking over as the largest retail channel in the USA – Wal-Mart still hold this special distinction.