It seems that “Gray Thursday” is the new name for the fourth Thursday of November each year in the United States.
The name marks the re-purposing of a traditional event — from a communal giving of thanks, to shopping. Shopping for sale items is well on its way to supplanting America’s traditional harvest festival, and Gray Thursday (the day formerly known as Thanksgiving Day) is increasingly recognized as the precursor of Black Friday.
Black Friday, of course, has for the past decade or so been the most busy day of the year for U.S. retailers.
This year, instead of waiting to open their doors early on Friday to a rush of people sated by feasting a day earlier, many businesses apparently decided to designate the food-and-family ritual thing as a gray area.
“Best Buy, J. C. Penney and Toys “R” Us opened at 5 p.m., with Target and Macy’s in close pursuit at 6 p.m.,” reported the New York Times. The afternoon timing of those stores allowed shoppers to gobble down a Thanksgiving lunch, at least. But some businesses axed even lunch: Kmart opened this year in the U.S. at 6 a.m. Thursday — perhaps betting that enough people would rather shop than cook and dine with relatives.
Luckily, even the most devoted families and foodies can partake, after their traditional rituals, of seasonal sales, on “Cyber Monday” on the Internet. And even that day has begun to morph, into “Cyber Week.” Said Consumer Reports after last year’s season: “Several of the retailers—including Best Buy, Target, and Walmart — seem to have abandoned Cyber Monday in favor of a full Cyber Week event.”
There is no word on when Gray and Black days and Cyber Weeks will spread into the days still known as Saint Nicholas’s (Dec. 6); the Buddist Bodhi Day (Dec. 8); the Hindu Pancha Ganapati (Dec. 21 – 25); Solstice (on about Dec. 21); Christmas (Dec. 25); Kwanzaa (Dec. 26), and the peripatetic Hannukah and Chinese New Year.
As you contemplate the colour of your day, enjoy Tom Regan*’s response to the shopping frenzy, which made him resort to poetry. Here’s the start of ‘Twas the Night Before Black Friday:
Twas the night before Black Friday, and all through the house
Every creature was stirring, yes even the mouse;
The credit cards were ready for use here and there,
In the hopes that a bargain soon would be theirs … continue reading
Tom Regan* is the author of F&O‘s Summoning Orenda column.
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