In 1621, after the Pilgrims’ first corn harvest was successful, Governor William Bradford organized a feast to celebrate. The Plymouth colonists and Wampanoag Indians shared an autumn harvest feast and festival which lasted 3 days. Nobody knows for sure what the original menu included, but Edward Winslow wrote in his journal that the governor sent four men on a fowling mission to prepare for the feast and that the Wampanoag guests brought 5 deer. Most of the dishes were probably seasoned with Native American spices. The Pilgrims had no ovens and little no sugar, so the meal did not feature pies, cakes, or other desserts which are practically synonymous with modern feasts. Can you even imagine a Thanksgiving dinner without pumpkin pie? Well, the Pilgrims had none. Bradford’s feast is acknowledged as one of the first Thanksgiving celebrations in the colonies. Several colonies observed such a feast day, but it wasn’t until 1863 that President Abraham Lincoln in the middle of the Civil War made the day a national holiday.
A tidbit of history never hurt any of us and is interesting enough, but the main question here is how did the people know when to observe Black Friday before we had an official Thanksgiving Day? And more importantly, how did the actual Christmas season ever manage to begin?
Today, while the left-over Thanksgiving turkey waits beside the cranberry sauce in the refrigerator to become tomorrow’s sandwiches or turkey noodle soup and the left over corn is migrating to the back of the second shelf to begin growing mold, people set out in the wee hours in search of bargains in the biggest sales of the year. In some places people camp out and wait in line for hours, oft times in foul weather, for the best prices on ipads, laptop computers and big flat screen televisions.
Frequently would-be customers go home empty-handed though because the stores sell out. Tempers flare. Fights ensue. Invariably some one is hurt and the police appear. Black Friday seems to bring out the worst in modern-day shoppers.
The color black has long been a literary symbol. The bad guy always wears the black hat. The swarthy black man in the Hawthorne stories is always the devil. Black clouds hanging over our heads symbolize impending doom. Why then would Black Friday be any different?
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