Thanksgiving Today-Giving Thanks For Black Friday
By ROBERT NARANJO
Thanksgiving was traditionally a time for families to get together and sit down to a feast of turkey and a host of side dishes and desserts. It was also a time to catch up with the lives of family members who traveled home from other cities and states to be “home for Thanksgiving.” People watched Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade on TV and watched pro football, too, during this family oriented holiday. Today, a lot of catching up with each other these day is done on social media.
Thanksgiving is one the most traveled holidays in the U.S. with tens of millions of Americans traveling by car, bus, train or plane to be “home for Thanksgiving.” In years past, Thanksgiving was all about family. Today, it still is but with an economic twist that people look forward to more sometimes than the holiday itself, and that is the phenomenon of “Black Friday.” As almost all are aware, the Friday after Thanksgiving is the opening of the holiday shopping season when retailers in the U.S. have price slashing sales that draw customers in droves the day after Thanksgiving. It’s called Black Friday because of the percentage of sales for retailers is extraordinarily high and gives a big boost to their total overall sales for the year, and in many cases puts businesses in the “black.”
However, there are many national retailers that are not open on Black Friday. Some have TV and radio commercials that inform the public that they will be closed on Black Friday, sending a message that the Thanksgiving holiday is for time spent with family. It’s a reversal of what they used to do, and are closed to give their own employees time with their families and possibly setting a precedent. But that’s unlikely, because Black Friday is here to stay for many major stores and will be part of the Thanksgiving holiday for generations to come.
Modern day post Thanksgiving sales is only part of this holiday with a long history in the United States. The most most time-honored version are the pilgrims celebrating “Thanksgiving” for the successful harvest with the help of the Wamapoag Indians who sat at the table with the pilgrims. This is the version still taught in U.S. elementary schools as the “First Thanksgiving.” However, historians point out it was not the first. The following is a time line of “Thanksgivings” that were celebrated and whose participants had different reasons for being thankful.
Chronology of Thanksgivings in the U.S.
- May of 1541 – Spanish Explorer Francisco Vasquez de Coronado led 1,500 men in a thanksgiving celebration at Palo Duro Canyon in what is today the Texas Panhandle as he traveled out of New Mexico seeking the Seven Cities of Gold. Coronado and his men camped for two weeks at Palo Duro. The Texas Society Daughters of American Colonists recognized and celebrated Coronado’s thanksgiving in 1959.
- June 30, 1564 – French Huguenots celebrated a Thanksgiving in a settlement, St. Augustine, near Jacksonville, Fl.
- April 30, 1598 – Spanish conquistador “Capitan-General , Adelantado, y Gobernador” Don Juan de Onate, founder of New Mexico’s first capital on July 11, 1598 celebrated a thanksgiving near present day El Paso, TX and Ciudad Juarez, Chih., MX. Fish were caught from the Rio Bravo del Norte (Rio Grande) and fowl were shot from the sky for the celebration of thanks according to the records. A play, “Los Moros y Los Cristianos” was performed by his settlers making it the first play ever performed in the U.S.
- Spring of 1610 – Settlers in Jamestown, VA celebrated a thanksgiving after English supply ships arrived with provisions, saving the colony. Settlers numbered about 490 but were reduced to 60 survivors.
- October 1621 – The Pilgrims at Plymouth Colony celebrated a three -day thanksgiving for their successful harvest. Governor William Bradford invited the Chief of the Wamapoag Indians to celebrate with the Pilgrims. This celebration is credited with what later became the nation’s Thanksgiving Day.
- Nov. 26, 1941 – President Roosevelt signed legislation “establishing Thanksgiving Day as the fourth Thursday in November.” Interestingly enough, the legislation did not impact the 1941 Thanksgiving which was celebrated on the third Thursday of November. In 1942, it was celebrated on the fourth Thursday in November and has been celebrated on that particular date since.
- Have a blessed Thanksgiving Day with your family from all of us at the Valley Daily Post.