The origin of the Thanksgiving holiday has had it’s share of controversy over the years. Many of us remember having Thanksgiving ‘feasts’ in our elementary school classrooms where each child was adorned with a handmade Pilgrim hat or American Indian headdress. Everyone would eat their little meal in unity ‘as they did at the first Thanksgiving’. History has taught us that the original Thanksgiving meal was likely not quite as friendly and unifying as we had been previously taught.
Nevertheless, the tradition of Thanksgiving carried on until, in 1940, Representative Allen Treadway of Massachusetts, along with Congress, set the last Thursday of November as the official holiday for Thanksgiving.
The day after Thanksgiving, now referred to as ‘Black Friday’, has long been regarded as the beginning of the holiday shopping season. America’s popular Thanksgiving Day parades have classically ended with an appearance by Santa, insinuating that ‘Santa has arrived’ and Christmas is here. Many Thanksgiving Day parades, most famously the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, which has been held in Manhattan since 1924, are sponsored by department stores and are used to launch holiday advertising campaigns. It became a tradition that stores would not advertise for Christmas until the parade, and so the day after Thanksgiving was when the shopping season officially started.
The term ‘Black Friday’ is now used for this day because businesses typically operate at a financial loss all year, or are “in the red,” until the day after Thanksgiving. The massive sales of Black Friday allow retailers to turn a profit and put them “in the black.”
Small Business Saturday
Small Business Saturday takes place on the Saturday following Thanksgiving. It is a marketing initiative created by American Express in 2010 as an effort to promote holiday shopping. The campaign was designed to inspire consumers to prioritize the brick-and-mortars in their communities. President Obama, many local politicians and small business groups in the United States publicized the campaign which generated more than one million Facebook ‘likes’ and nearly 30,000 tweets under the hashtag #smallbusinesssaturday.
Cyber Monday the Monday after Thanksgiving, was created by retailers to encourage people to shop online. The term was coined by Ellen Davis of the National Retail Federation and was presented in 2005, in a Shop.org press release entitled “‘Cyber Monday’ Quickly Becoming One of the Biggest Online Shopping Days of the Year”. In 2020, the online sales on Cyber Monday reached $10.8 billion, making it the biggest ecommerce selling day of all time (CNBC, 2020).
Last, and certainly not least, we have Giving Tuesday, the Tuesday after Thanksgiving. Often stylized as #GivingTuesday for the purposes of hashtag promotion, it is a global generosity movement unleashing the power of people and organizations to transform their communities and ultimately, the world. Giving Tuesday began as an idea in 2011, the brainchild of the non-profit Mary-Arrchie Theater Company in Chicago. Shoppers were urged via The Huffington Post to take a different approach to their holiday spending and consider donating to charity after they had finished their Cyber Monday shopping.
When it comes to the spirit of Thanksgiving, it seems that Giving Tuesday is the sub-holiday most closely related to our treasured day of thankfulness. An opportunity to give back is possibly the greatest way to express genuine thankfulness.
As Thanksgiving and Giving Tuesday approach, we encourage you to think of ways to give back to your families, communities and even the world! Below are a few of our favorite charities that you might consider donating to. May your holiday week be filled with thankfulness, generosity, Black Friday deals and tons of pumpkin pie.
Long Beach Rescue Mission
The Breakfast Club
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