Technically, this is not a repost because the original was in Blogger format converted to WordPress and it looks just awful. So this is a recreation of a post from ages ago. “Black Friday” Thoughts: Pt. 2 (November 25, 2011).
Today I remember that the years have rewarded me for every talent I possess, and for every effort I’ve ever made– amply rewarded me not only with the world’s material goods, but richly rewarded me in many, many fine friendships– rewarded me too with an almost endless series of deep and gratifying experiences.
This is no casual thought. I have often pondered it. I write of this now not merely because America has been good to me. It’s often difficult for us in the United States to see this. Most of us were born in this country; we grew up here. Without giving it any particular thought we accept our country and the vast wealth, the many advantages, and the countless opportunities which it so lavishly bestows upon us. We take America for granted.
J.C. Penney, Lines of a Layman, (1956)
But while this may be quite natural–and is certainly understandable– it’s also dangerous. “Those to whom much is given, from them shall much be required.” This ancient precept is as true for us today as it was for those to whom it was originally addressed two thousand years ago. Sometimes we forget that those stern old statements so cardinal in the faith of our fathers are true, not because they are written in the Scriptures, but rather they are written in the Scriptures because they’re true.[Emphasis in original]
Mr. Big Food has asked me repeatedly when “they” started calling the Friday after Thanksgiving “Black Friday.” I had no answer. We used to call the Friday and Saturday after Thanksgiving “Two Big Days,” and when stores began opening on Sundays, “Three Big Days.” Even the sales circulars and signage were labeled “Three Big Days!!”
Curiosity got the better of me so I consulted that infallible source, Wikipedia, to learn that the term originated in Philadelphia in 1966.
Use of the phrase spread slowly, first appearing in The New York Times on November 29, 1975, in which it still refers specifically to “the busiest shopping and traffic day of the year” in Philadelphia. Although it soon became more widespread, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported in 1985 that retailers in Cincinnati and Los Angeles were still unaware of the term.
(No surprise there. Cincinnati isn’t exactly up-to-the-minute on these sorts of things.)
I don’t think I heard the phrase until the early- to mid-2000s. I didn’t like it then, and I don’t like it now. I doubt that Mr. Penney would like it. I am certain my dad would not.
Unlike, I’ll bet, Mr. Protester, Mr. Penney has been rewarded with “an almost endless series of deep and gratifying experiences.” I cannot fathom how participation in Black Friday qualifies as a deep and gratifying experience. But then again, I cannot fathom asking, “What can my country do for me?”
More Black Friday thoughts here.