Shoppers patiently wait for shoe sale at Macy's. Black Friday 2013

Shoppers patiently wait for shoe sale at Macy’s. Black Friday 2013

By Joe Cirilo, Co Editor

At its root, Thanksgiving is probably a celebratory day of feast to give thanks for the last season’s harvest. Though there are different historical and cultural ties to this holiday, the American Thanksgiving, as made by Federal legislation in 1941, is an annual celebration we, in modern times, spend giving thanks for our families, the meal on our table, and the values that enrich the lives we live.

Some may contest that Thanksgiving celebrates things like massacre or outdated ideals in the United States, but today, we recognize the holiday as a time to appreciate what we have and who we are as a community and as a family both internally and nationally. It’s a time to set aside division and be thankful for the food on our table and the roof over our heads, while also thinking about those in dire need.

These facts alone make it difficult to swallow that all over the world, but for the sake of centric thinking, in the United States, the day after is closely guarded as a holiday in and of itself; “Black Friday.”

The day’s name actually originated in Philadelphia to describe the heavy pedestrian and vehicle traffic as people began to leave the homes of their families and flock home after the holiday. Some time after 1975, the term began to take on a new meaning; to describe the day when retailers began to turn a profit, or succeed “in the black” after routinely spending the period between January and November “in the red” or at a financial loss.

Black Friday 2013 in Costa Mesa, Calif.

Black Friday 2013 in Costa Mesa, Calif.

Today, we observe Black Friday as a time of rampant sales and shopping sprees to prepare for the Christmas season. Ironically, the day after giving thanks for what we have, retailers offer great discounts and invite their customers to spend money on things they don’t. This level of consumerism illustrates a problem with American culture; that we’re becoming too dependent on commercial necessity without a central focus on what really matters.

Even if you disagree with that sentiment, in 2012, Walmart, in conjuncture with many other retailers, announced that they would be opening their doors by 8 a.m. on Thursday except where it was illegal to do so, such as in Massachusetts. Those who work in retail are dragged from their families either the day of or the day after, and consumers are fueling the fire. The desire to open earlier and at all, for that matter, is driven by the influence of the shoppers. Enabling this not only tears families apart who have to be called in to work (albeit, sometimes for incentive pay increases)

Black Friday has been the subject of violence, protest, and represents the ugliness of American capitalism and the consumer culture. While we can’t say that we can totally abstain from discounts and deals, we must come together as a people to accept that things need to change, and that the change necessary comes when we decide to stand up for it.