Part 1: Black Friday

Unless you live under a large rock, you know that Black Friday refers to the day after Thanksgiving, which marks the  beginning of the Christmas shopping season: big crowds, small prices (maybe).  Where did the term “Black Friday ” come from? What does it mean?

Because we don’t often read about the meaning of the phrase, people have invented their own explanations for how the phrase became attached to the day after Thanksgiving. One incorrect explanation is that  it all started with a tradition of slave owners or slave traders using that day  to sell slaves.  Black Friday has nothing to do with the selling of slaves: in fact, the  term didn’t originate until nearly a century after slavery was abolished.

Another explanation of “Black Friday” originates from 1951, referring to the practice of workers calling in sick on the day after Thanksgiving, giving them a four-day weekend. (that day was not yet commonly offered as a paid day off by employers).  

One logical explanation of the term “Black Friday” is the linguistic link of  “in the black,” meaning “making a profit.” After all, the day after Thanksgiving is now one of the biggest —  if not the biggest — shopping days of the year.

However, the truth is that Black Friday got its name from the Philadelphia Police Department. Lots of shopping equals lots of cars, lots of traffic, lots of chaos. And, in the middle years of the twentieth century, the scene was often particularly bad in Philadelphia, where the annual Army-Navy football game was regularly played on the weekend after Thanksgiving.

So at some point in the 1950s or 1960s (some say it was 1966), the Philadelphia Police Department started to refer to the day after Thanksgiving as “Black Friday.” They hoped that people would find the whole thing distasteful and decide to stay at home.

“It was not a happy time,” retail scholar Michael Lisicky told CBS Philly in 2011. “The stores were just too crowded, the streets were crowded, the buses and the police were just on overcall and extra duty.”

Several years ago, retailers began starting the shopping day early, opening as early as 6 a.m. on Friday. Soon, opening time had crept to 5:00 or 4:00. In 2011,  several retailers (including Target, Kohl’s, Macy’s, and Best Buy) opened at midnight! Then,  in 2012 Walmart and several other retailers announced that they would open most of their stores at 8:00 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day, prompting some employees to walk out. In 2014, stores including JC Penney and  Best Buy opened at 5:00 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day;  Target, Walmart, and Sears opened at 6:00 p.m. Rhode Island, Maine, and Massachusetts prohibit large supermarkets, big box stores, and department stores from opening on Thanksgiving, due to blue laws.

If you have ever been at, let’s say, Toys R Us when it opens for Black Friday, you will believe that violence does occur between shoppers on Black Friday. Sometimes there just aren’t enough deals to go around. Since 2006, there have been 7 reported Black Friday deaths and 98 injuries throughout the United States. And if you haven’t done it yourself, you have probably seen  shoppers camping out waiting for a store to open to get at the front of the line and get that big screen TV before it is sold out! I just waited in line at the Coach outlet store, not for the first time! Hey, it’s tradition.

Part 2: Sides of Thanksgiving

I saw an interesting blog post about the word “side” and its many meanings on Thanksgiving.

This year my house looked better because I just finished having my house re-sided. (Truth). And fortunately everyone I invited was on the same political side, so there were no arguments.However, I doubt that was true with many Thanksgiving gatherings. If you found yourself arguing about politics, some household item, like maybe the television or a chair, may have end up upside down.  If you are a polite guest, you probably bought a side dish: perhaps green bean casserole or some nice yams. Then, perhaps the men — okay, the women too — chose sides for the after-dinner football game on TV. Since the tryptophan probably had started to take effect, I assume most of you were lying sideways in front of the TV. 

If you would like to see the original article click here: Side Dish

Part 3: Some Thanksgiving Quotes

Here are some thanksgiving quotes I found particularly appropriate this year: 

Thanksgiving dinners take eighteen hours to prepare. They are consumed in twelve minutes. Half-times take twelve minutes. This is not coincidence. – Erma Bombeck

You may have heard of Black Friday and Cyber Monday. There’s another day you might want to know about: Giving Tuesday. The idea is pretty straightforward. On the Tuesday after Thanksgiving, shoppers take a break from their gift-buying and donate what they can to charity. – Bill Gates

Vegetables are a must on a diet. I suggest carrot cake, zucchini bread, and pumpkin pie. –  Jim Davis

An optimist is a person who starts a new diet on Thanksgiving Day. –  Irv Kupcinet

I celebrated Thanksgiving in an old-fashioned way. I invited everyone in my neighborhood to my house, we had an enormous feast, and then I killed them and took their land. –  Jon Stewart

I don’t think any other holiday embraces the food of the Midwest quite like Thanksgiving. There’s roasted meat and mashed potatoes. But being here is also about heritage. Cleveland is really a giant melting pot – not only is my family a melting pot, but so is the city. –  Michael Symon

Shopmas now begins on Thanksgiving Day. Apparently, escaping the families you cannot stand to spend another minute with on Thanksgiving Day to go buy them gifts is how some Americans show their affection for one another. Weird. –  Barry Ritholtz

From the beginning, the Continental Congress had official chaplains, prayers, and days of fasting and Thanksgiving. When sessions opened in 1774, fear was voiced that the religious diversity of the country would make it hard to choose a form of worship. – M. Stanton Evans

After a good dinner one can forgive anybody, even one’s own relations. – Oscar Wilde

Thankfulness is an attitude of possibilities, not an attitude of liabilities. – Craig D. Lounsbrough