Black Thursday: The Blurring of a Holiday and Commercial Phenomenon

Luke Harpring

Everyone knows what that pseudo-holiday after Thanksgiving is all about. However, Black Friday is a quite recent phenomenon that exists solely as the result of a hyper-commercialized society of the twenty-first century. In reality, Black Friday has only been the busiest shopping day of the year since 2003. Unlike most people’s perception of the name, Black Friday did not get its name because of businesses “going in the black” on that day, but rather is named with the “Black” prefix used with infamous historical dates. Black Friday has surely become infamous in its reputation within its short existence so far.

Black Friday extremism has led many shoppers to go to long and dangerous lengths to ensure a snag on doorbuster sales at many retailers across the country. Camping outside, waiting in the cold early morning, and even waiting in line on Thanksgiving night have all become common practice for certain consumers in recent times.

While the chaos Black Friday has led to a few notable horrific events, such as the 2008 trampling of a retail worker to death by a mob, the majority of related destruction has only been the devastation of a parent not being able to get a discounted gift for a relative.

The real issue with Black Friday is the dangerous merge it has made with perhaps the most wholesome and honest holiday of all; Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving is meant to be a celebration of gratitude for one’s family and blessings, not merely an extension of the commercial Christmas conglomerate.

With the recent “Black Thursday” phenomenon, in which stores open on Thanksgiving as “early” Black Friday sales, Thanksgiving has been even more negatively affected by the marketing approaches of large corporations. If Black Friday was not already detrimental to the Thanksgiving spirit, it at least did not directly infringe on the holiday itself. However, as opening times have been pushed further and further back, Thanksgiving has begun to blur into Black Friday, ultimately blurring into the winter holiday frenzy. Not to mention that aside from consumers, retail workers are often forced to work on Thanksgiving and be away from family and friends on the special day.

Much could be said about the damaging effects to American culture that have occured due to the Black Friday phenomenon, but the primary issue with the blur between Thanksgiving and the competing interests of Black Friday is that the values of Thanksgiving are directly contradicted by consumerism. On Thanksgiving, we are supposed to realize that what we have is enough and give thanks for our blessings, not look to buy more things that we don’t need.