How “Black Friday” Almost Came Early — and other Thanksgiving/”Franksgiving” Tales

Happy short week! It’s become something of a tradition here on the AVPS end of things to get our blog post and newsletter out early during Thanksgiving, which of course is a week rich in traditions (including traditionally rich foods!)

The thing with “traditions” is, they feel like they’ve always been around — that’s why they’re traditional! But some of the things we take for granted over this long holiday weekend are, in fact, fairly recent arrivals on the collective radar.

Thanksgiving has been a Federal holiday since Gettysburg, when Lincoln proposed a day of gratitude for the ending of the Civil War (perhaps not foreseeing its ongoing reverberations more than a century later.) And yet, while falling on a Thursday, that holiday “had never received a fixed date, (but) had been celebrated since its recognition as a Federal holiday on the last Thursday of every month,” according to an article on American Profile.

That essay also looks at various holiday-related Presidential anecdotes over the decades and years, and recounts how Franklin D. Roosevelt tried to push the holiday back a week, in order to spark a Depression-era “Black Friday,” and encourage more shopping:

“In an attempt to grant large business owners a little more time between Thanksgiving and Christmas to generate revenue, the president made the executive decision to move the holiday back one week. However, this decision soon backfired immensely, with thousands of complaint letters pouring into the White House, and some state officials even declaring the change moot, celebrating the holiday on the original date. In protest, many began referring to the errant holiday as Franksgiving.’”

So “Franksgiving” came and went (in spite of a later, Sinatra-themed connection to the name!), but the reliance on Thanksgiving-week holiday shopping remains a lynchpin of the economy.

Indeed, Marketwatch is reporting that Americans are planning to spend 25% more over Thanksgiving weekend than they did last year: “Fifty-seven percent of people plan to shop over the weekend, with 59% of those shoppers saying they’ll shop online, up from 52% in 2014. And while 14% plan to head to stores on Thanksgiving Day, 24% said they’ll do so online. Two-thirds of Thanksgiving weekend shoppers said they’ll shop on Black Friday…”

So when we return, it will be December, and another Black Friday and Cyber Monday will be in the bag, and we’ll have some “hard figures” to report.  But more importantly, you’ll have another trove of freshly-minted holiday memories as well.

So happy memory-making, and happy “Franksgiving!”

 

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