Black Friday: An accident of history
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In recent years, most major retailers have opened extremely early and offered promotional sales to kick off the holiday shopping season, similar to Boxing Day sales in many Commonwealth Nations. Black Friday is not a federal holiday, but California and some other states observe "The Day After Thanksgiving" as a holiday for state government employees, sometimes in lieu of another federal holiday such as Columbus Day. Many non-retail employees and schools have both Thanksgiving and the day after off, followed by a weekend, thereby increasing the number of potential shoppers. It has routinely been the busiest shopping day of the year since 2005, although news reports, which at that time were inaccurate, have described it as the busiest shopping day of the year for a much longer period of time.
Later on, the fact that this marked the official start of the shopping season led to controversy. In 1939, retail shops would have liked to have a longer shopping season, but no store wanted to break with tradition and be the one to start advertising before Thanksgiving. President Franklin D. Roosevelt moved the date for Thanksgiving one week earlier, leading to much anger by the public who wound up having to change holiday plans. Some even refused the change, resulting in the U.S. citizens celebrating Thanksgiving on two separate days. Some started referring to the change as Franksgiving.
In the 1950s, some factory managers referred to the day after Thanksgiving as "black Friday" because so many workers called in sick. The day, noted one industrial magazine, was "a disease second only to the bubonic plague" in its effects on employees. In the early 1960s, Philadelphia cops used the term to describe the intense crowds of shoppers and traffic that poured into center city on the day after Thanksgiving. It was hardly a term of endearment. All the people and congestion made police work more difficult. As a sales manager at Gimbels said, watching a cop trying to deal with a group of jaywalkers, "the police think in terms of headaches that it gives them." Learn more here.
To learn more about Thanksgiving Day, check out these resources:
Interested in the first American Thanksgiving? See here.
Thanksgiving Day (Jour de l'Action de grâce in Canadian French) is a national holiday celebrated primarily in the United States and Canada as a day of giving thanks for the blessing of the harvest and of the preceding year. Several other places around the world observe similar celebrations. It is celebrated on the second Monday of October in Canada. In the United States, Thanksgiving Day, is a holiday celebrated on the fourth Thursday in November. It has been an annual tradition since 1863. As a federal and public holiday in the U.S., Thanksgiving is one of the major holidays of the year. Together with Christmas and New Year, Thanksgiving is a part of the broader holiday season.
This is the proclamation which set the precedent for America's national day of Thanksgiving. During his administration, President Lincoln issued many orders similar to this. For example, on November 28, 1861, he ordered government departments closed for a local day of thanksgiving. Sarah Josepha Hale, a 74-year-old magazine editor, wrote a letter to Lincoln on September 28, 1863, urging him to have the "day of our annual Thanksgiving made a National and fixed Union Festival." She explained, "You may have observed that, for some years past, there has been an increasing interest felt in our land to have the Thanksgiving held on the same day, in all the States; it now needs National recognition and authoritive fixation, only, to become permanently, an American custom and institution."
Here's an article from Huffington Post titled: 'Thanksgiving To Almighty God': Presidential Thanksgiving Proclamations From George Washington To Barack Obama
In 2013, two holidays happen on the same day. Here's an article from The New York Times titled Holidays Holding Hands When Thanksgiving and Hanukkah Collide
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