The holidays have taken a back seat to Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Thanksgiving, Kwanzaa, Hanukkah, Christmas, they are all becoming more known for shopping deals than for the delicious food and family time.
Most understand Black Friday as an event where retail stores provide discounts in order to achieve positive revenue or get into the “black.” However, the origins of “Black Friday” are darker than many may know, according a history.com article.
“Back in the 1950s, police in the city of Philadelphia used the term to describe the chaos that ensued on the day after Thanksgiving, when hordes of suburban shoppers and tourists flooded into the city in advance of the big Army-Navy football game held on that Saturday every year,” the article states.
In addition, the article goes on to say that the police officers would have to work long hours as a result of the phenomenon. While Black Friday is now viewed in a more positive light — thanks in part to the retailers promoting irresistible deals — the long hours that the police officers had to work in the ’50s is eerily similar to the long hours that employees have to work today for Black Friday.
Since stores open earlier and stay open longer, many employees work at least eight hour shifts. As a past retail employee, I would work eight to ten hours on Black Friday. This year, some stores opened their doors in the afternoon/evening on Thanksgiving Day. JCPenny, for instance, opened at 3 p.m. Thanksgiving Day, and Target and Walmart opened at 6 p.m. Thanksgiving Day, according to theblackfriday.com.
This caused many people to miss spending time with their families because they were either working or shopping, which tends to happen again in December. It seems that making sure not to miss out on a good deal is becoming more important than spending time with family.
While Cyber Monday may be a better alternative, there are drawbacks to that event, too. Because many online websites allow “early access” deals by releasing sales before Monday, shoppers invest more time on their phones or computers shopping online despite being with their family. In addition, manufacturers, like retail employees, are having to spend more time working to fulfill online orders and are once again spending less time with their family for the holiday.
This shopping craze undercuts the purpose of Thanksgiving, and bleeds through into the Christmas season, which is supposed to be about sharing time and reflecting on one’s blessings with friends and family. Not to mention we are destroying possibly the only positive historical interaction that the colonists had with the native peoples by prioritizing saving 15 percent on a purchase. Perhaps next year we can attempt to give our time to our friends and family instead of taking away the time employees could have had with their family and friends.