Thursday, 23 December 2010

Thanksgiving to New Year:The season of shopping madness

This is the season of shopping madness.
Shopping madness is nothing new to us Indians.The festivals like Durga Puja in West Bengal or Diwali in Northern India and the other different kind of excuses that we Indians always find to start our seasons of shopping madness are common knowledge to us.But shopping madness that I saw in U.S is still unique in a variety of ways.
The first thing that struck me that here even shopping madness is very organised.The whole idea of fixing a date for Thanksgiving is linked with this idea of organised shopping fever.Thanksgiving is said to have been first celebrated in 1621 by some pilgrims and some native Americans together to celebrate their harvest and say thanks to God.There have been scattered records of the celebration after that in some places after that for a variety of reasons.Later George Washington proposed a national day of Thanksgiving in 1789 but was not accepted by most of the colonies.It was Sarah Joseph Hale's continuous efforts that finally resulted in President Lincoln's proclamation of the national day of Thanksgiving as the Last Thursday of November.
In 1939, President Roosevelt changed the date to the Thursday of third week of November.He did this in response to request from retailers who thought that it would add an extra week to Christmas shopping thereby increasing their revenues.The world at that time had been suffering from the Great Depression for a decade and the Second World War had just started. Roosevelt,however met with opposition from most of the country and Thanksgiving was back to its original date.
This modern Thanksgiving,unlike that celebrated by the pilgrims have,hopwever,little to do with harvest.This is the official signal in U.S.A to start the shopping madness.
This brings us to the next day,i.e Black friday.
Now why is this day called Black Friday?This term was originally used to refer to a financial crisis that took place in 1869 in USA. The term was used to refer to the day after Thanksgiving first in 1966 by the philadelphia Police Department to refer to the traffic jam that was caused due to the huge crowd of shoppers. The term "black" in Black Friday also refers to the accounting practice of using red ink to show losses and black ink to show profits.The friday after Thanksgiving the Merchants would have no red on their books but just black,just profit.
But what strikes me most is how a day has just turned into an unofficial holiday throughout the country just because its the start of the shopping season!!
Although I have written in my last blog that I would not participate in this shopping madness, even I actually did.It was partly because of a necessity but more because of curiosity.
Well, I had recently bought a GPS for my car from Garmin but was looking for a better deal in this sale so that I can exchange it for something better.I actually got a GPS with Lifetime Map and Traffic which was 250$ the last week for 120$ on Black Friday. But as we have learnt from net and TV that the Black Friday deals are often for limited stocks and there is a mad rush that even results in many accidents,we were quite apprehensive.The shops were open from husband went to the shop at 5:00 Am and they told him no returns untill 10AM.He told me that Best Buy seemed to have grown smaller in one day as there seemed no place left to step.I was  excited.It seemed to remind me of New Market in Kolkata.So I went out partly for some shopping but mainly to soak in the excitement and the madness.
I have lived in Europe in the time of Christmas and I really felt they don't know how to enjoy a festival. In Switzerland I actually saw more madeness surrounding Montreux Jazz Festival than Christmas.
But here things are different.The Black Friday was just the beginning.Shopping madness is still on.The roads are so crowded in this small town that it is taking 1 hr to travel a 15 min drive.Everyone everywhere is talking about Christmas.I have been listening to merry Christmas from the last week.
There is no sign of recession in the shopping spree that I can see here.But then I thought who could tell that there are so many financial problems in our own country if they see the shopping madness prior to the festivals in India. Somehow this crazy energy and excitement surrounding Christmas that I see in this country makes me feel related to it in my own Indian way.

Useful links: Thanksgiving History and traditions, Thanksgiving wiki
                   Black Friday Wiki

No comments:

Post a Comment