For years America’s best sports tradition has been the rivalry between the Black Knights from West Point and the Midshipmen from Annapolis where the Army versus Navy football game was dubbed “America’s Game”. Gone are the days when America’s service academies were national powerhouses, but the game will forever hold a place in American culture. Generations ago, both Army and Navy were football powerhouses, combining for four national championships. The term Black Friday wasn’t in common use nationwide before 1985, however it was known in Philadelphia, where the Army Navy game was hosted in the city 89 of the 122 contests. This made sense, as Philadelphia was roughly equidistant from the two academies. This game was historically played on the Saturday after Thanksgiving (a date on which most other major college football teams end their regular seasons). In the early 1950s, this game attracted more than 100,000 people, filling John F. Kennedy Stadium (formerly Sesquicentennial Stadium and then renamed Philadelphia Municipal Stadium) a huge South Philadelphia open air bowl‐like arena.
About 50 percent of those big crowds that came to the city for the Holiday and the game would go into the streets to shop for sales at the local stores on Friday, which moved the businesses out of the red (not making a profit) into the black, which was a positive thing. All those extra shoppers required extra police patrols, so officers were forced to work long shifts to prevent the chaos, bedlam and looting that took place the day after Thanksgiving, and this is most likely where the nickname Black Friday came from. By the 1980s, Black Friday became synonymous with amazing deals that would kickoff the holiday shopping season. In the past, most stores adhered to an unwritten rule that holiday shopping season didn’t start until after Thanksgiving, so no stores would advertise holiday sales or aggressively court customers until the Friday immediately following the holiday. Today, we also have Small Business Saturday, Small Business Sunday, Cyber Monday, and Giving Tuesday which emerged to spur charitable donations. Most businesses remain closed on Thanksgiving Day, to allow their employees to enjoy the holiday, but the next day they are all open and packed with some of the biggest and best deals of the year. With the rise of digital shopping, shoppers don’t have to wait until midnight on Thanksgiving Day for the floodgates to open, so we can begin our Christmas shopping, as many online stores are putting Black Friday deals out both online and in store far ahead of the actual Friday after Thanksgiving.
Thanksgiving is a holiday where we eat turkey, stuffing, potatoes, gravy, rolls, cranberry sauce, count our blessings and maybe toss around the pigskin with relatives, watch the Macys Thanksgiving Day parade and then watch the National Dog Show and after that check out all 3 of the NFL games. The story of the first Thanksgiving takes place in 1621 where the Plymouth Pilgrims shared a feast with the Indians who helped them weather their harsh first winter in a new land and to celebrate their first successful harvest. At least 90 Native men and 50 Englishmen likely played marksmanship games and ran footraces in between dining on deer, geese, turkey, and other fowl. It was a three-day celebration that did involve the over-consumption of turkey, and the first civil proclamation was issued two years later, when Pilgrim governor William Bradford assigned a day specifically to “render thanksgiving to ye Almighty God for all His blessings.” Americans tend to consider the holiday of Thanksgiving uniquely their own, but observances that thank a divine being or beings for a successful crop, for victory in the field, for the birth of a child, or for life itself are as ancient as humanity.
In 1789, President George Washington decreed that Thursday, November 26, would be a day of public thanksgiving, but in the years that followed, the holiday bounced informally from month to month and date to date. The last Thursday in November became the norm in 1863 with a declaration by President Abraham Lincoln. A few years later in 1870, Congress followed suit by passing legislation making Thanksgiving (along with Christmas Day, New Year’s Day, and Independence Day) a national holiday. However, unlike the other holidays in the bill, the President had the discretion to set the date for Thanksgiving. In 1939, the Retail Dry Goods Association warned Franklin Roosevelt that if the holiday season didn’t begin until after Americans celebrated Thanksgiving on the traditional final Thursday in November, retail sales would go in the tank. Roosevelt moved Thanksgiving up by a week making the holiday the next-to-last Thursday in November adding an extra week onto the shopping season. In 1941, Congress passed a law that made Thanksgiving the fourth Thursday in November. Black Friday effectively functions like the Super Bowl of savings, and you can expect to find markdowns at almost every store or e-commerce website. Given the competition, many businesses are now hosting early Black Friday sales, and they will drop some of their biggest deals on Thanksgiving night, to get a jumpstart on things. This year, experts are predicting that inflation and supple chain issues could impact overall profits, but retailers are expected to counter this by hosting even more early sales that shoppers can take advantage of along with business-specific loyalty programs that can help them enjoy additional savings. Due to procrastination and poor consumer planning, most stores see their largest sales on the Saturday before Christmas.
For Friday Faithfuls this week. I want to know how you do your holiday shopping. Do you make a list for everyone that you will get presents for? Do you set a budget so you know how much you can afford to spend on every present? Are you a last-minute shopper? Do you make sure that you are getting the best deals? Have you ever re-gifted something that you didn’t want? If you are waiting for something to go on sale, or if you are planning on buying something, I would love to hear about it.