Food For Thought: Do We Value Black Friday More Than Thanksgiving?

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Thanksgiving is almost here and this is a time where we are thankful for everything we have in our lives, but as soon as the clock hits midnight it seems like all that thankful energy is thrown out the window because it’s now Black Friday and the only thing on your mind right now is that new iPhone or Coach handbag you’ve been dying to have. It’s funny how we go from sitting around a table with our loved ones to rushing off for the latest deals at the mall. However, I’m not one to judge because, like most Americans, I am guilty of participating in Black Friday shopping.

Is Thanksgiving Less Important Than Black Friday?

It’s like there is a tension between our culture of consumerism (oriented around self-satisfaction) through materialism and amassing stuff. Somehow this is in conflict with a values-based society because it seems that we put these materialistic things before our family. It makes you think, do we value getting the deals more than spending time with our family?  People forgo Thanksgiving entirely just to participate in Black Friday instead due to the fact that this holiday keeps happening earlier each year.

People have been known to camp out days before just to be sure to get the latest deals. According to statistics, this year 79 percent of Americans said they plan to go shopping on Black Friday, while 44 percent said that they even plan to camp out for the best deals. That’s almost half of the U.S. that plans to skip Thanksgiving completely and set up camp in front of store days before Black Friday. And as soon as the day comes around and the camping out is over, fights seem to break out. People are willing to harm others in order to get what they want in that store, and it really contradicts the whole meaning of Thanksgiving.

The biggest culprit on this holiday in our landfill is technology. It’s already the main thing that distracts us from reality and it’s now the most popular thing we seek for on this holiday. Even with Cyber Monday coming along, this is just another way for humans to disconnect from the real world. In a way it’s almost as if humanity is creating more and more ways to turn us against actuality.

The History Behind the Holiday

When was the first Black Friday and where in our history did this pop up? Did the Pilgrims and Indians start a trade swap that we don’t know about? Well it began all the way back in 1869 and it was due to the crash of the U.S. gold market. Two Wall Street financiers, Jay Gould and Jim Fisk, came together to buy up as much as they could of the nation’s gold, hoping to drive the price sky-high and sell it for astonishing profits. However, this cause the stock market to crash and made pretty much anyone from Wall Street barons to farmers bankrupt.

This story now leads us into the traditional holiday we know now, where after an entire year of operating at a loss (“in the red”) stores would supposedly earn a profit (“went into the black”) on the day after Thanksgiving, customers spend their money on deals before the holidays. The first Black Friday we know today happened in the 1960’s in Philadelphia and was created to kickoff the holiday season where sales would increase compared to the rest of the year.

Call to action:

After the craziness of Black Friday, WiseTribe is encouraging people to come join us Nov. 27th around the table at Purgreens and participate in designing solutions for designing local food solutions which yield healthy food options and making sure we’re designing abundance for community.

If you are participating in Black Friday be safe and remember, acknowledge each other on this seasonal holiday. Ironically, even in that craziness there is a shared experience where we all show the same enthusiasm for that day.



Erin Martin is a contributing writer to WiseTribe and she is double majoring in Journalism and Sociology at Florida Atlantic University. Her dream is to pursue a career in Public Relations that combines her passions for learning, community, and valuing all living things. She cherishes her family and considered herself very lucky to have twin sister as her best friend.

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