‘Black’ Friday gloomy, corporate and soulless
Published: Tuesday, November 29, 2011
Updated: Tuesday, November 29, 2011 19:11
Now that we have returned from our Thanksgiving break, we find ourselves in what has been traditionally considered the "official" holiday shopping season.
We'll also be inundated with the annual debates over keeping "Christ in Christmas" as opposed to writing "x-mas", and the use of the greeting "happy holidays" versus "merry Christmas."
Both of these debates feel pointless though, because Christmas has been distorted into a commercialized holiday where love and friendship are measured in dollars spent.
Every year it seems the retail industry thrusts Christmas upon us earlier and earlier. Not too many years ago, it was considered tacky to begin decorating or shopping for Christmas before Thanksgiving.
Santa's arrival at the end of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade was the symbol to start making those gift-giving lists and unpacking the decorations for the house and tree.
Now Santa, turkeys and Halloween masks compete for retail space as early as the first week of October. We have moved from the "12 Days of Christmas" into a time when the 12 weeks of Christmas is a better description of commercialized reality.
The best example of American society's commercialization of Christmas is Black Friday—the unofficial holiday that represents the opposite of the Christmas season.
Trying to find the origin of using the term "black Friday" as a designation for the day after Thanksgiving is like wading through a grey sea of urban legends.
Many believe the phrase is an accounting reference; noting the increased sales puts retailers "in the black." Others, notably retail employees forced to work on what is considered to be the busiest shopping day of the year, have long considered the day in terms of something less positive.
According to merriam-webster.com, "black" can be used to mean "very sad, gloomy or calamitous."
Bonnie Taylor-Blake of the American Dialect Society alluded in a 2008 listserv this was the connotation used by Martin Apfelbaum in 1966 when his advertisement in the American Philatelist became the first known published printing of the phrase.
Apfelbaum indicated Philadelphia police officers had given the designation to the day after Thanksgiving due to increased vehicular and mob-like pedestrian traffic caused by the beginning of the holiday shopping season.
No matter where the phrase began, UrbanDictionary.com has probably the best definition of black Friday, calling it "a holy day of obligation in the Church of the Almighty Dollar."
This particular definition highlights the irony of a religious holiday clashing with a "gotta-have-it" mentality.
Christmas has become more about the economy and less about the spirit of giving. We're blasted with commercials that imply love is a car with a bow on it or a fancy diamond from a fancy jeweler.
We're subjected to articles and broadcast news telling us how critical this year's holiday shopping season is to retailers.
Where has the spirit of goodwill gone?
It is acceptable to pitch a tent and camp out for midnight bargains, but many view pitching a tent in protest of oppression and corporate greed an act of violence.
The people who trampled, mobbed and pepper sprayed each other last week were not at an Occupy event, they were showing how much they love their friends and family by participating in Black Friday.
Jenny is a junior majoring in environmental engineering. She loves the Boston Red Sox, riding roller coasters, writing poetry and watching science fiction programs.