The United States has been observing this custom for many years now. It first showed up in the 60s, and it has routinely been the busiest shopping day of the year in the United States since 2005. In 2011, several large retailers even started opening at midnight (guess which ones? I bet you won’t have to work at it much!) On the weekend that Americans are supposed to be staying in with families and eating together and celebrating what you have, you are instead going out to buy things you don’t have, so that minimum wage workers can instead be forced into not spending the day with their families to serve grouchy, miserable people who all have more money than they do. If the poor do manage to get out to buy stuff, they starve for a month before Christmas in order to be able to afford to get all the deals on the one day, believing that this helps them to save money in the long term. This on a day that most Americans could usually guarantee that they were going to have a day off a decade ago.
It makes a virtue of consumerism and waste; it rewards rotten behaviour; it highlights the class divisions and the racial divisions in society; and it entirely eats up what could be a beautiful and virtuous holiday. For what? To try to take advantage of “deals” that are always better on Boxing Day (the day after Christmas)? At least Boxing Day has the excuse of trying to clear out spare inventory and waste!
The worst part about it is that it’s spreading. It’s creeping over the border here in Canada. It started to try to keep the Canadians who lived close to the 49th Parallel (most of us) from going across the border to shop. So now it is poisoning Canada too (and other Commonwealth countries as well, thanks to online promotion and this Cyber Monday nonsense). It’s poisoning Mexico also; they now have a weekend of discounts and extended credit terms (to enslave more people with debt) called El Buen Fin “the good weekend.” HA!
And then there’s this stuff:
- A man shopping at Best Buy was recorded on video assaulting another shopper.
- Unruly Walmart shoppers at a store outside Columbus, Ohio, quickly flooded in the doors at opening, pinning several employees against stacks of merchandise.
- Nine shoppers in a California mall were injured, including an elderly woman who had to be taken to the hospital, when the crowd rushed to grab gift certificates that had been released from the ceiling.
- A crowd of approximately 2,000 shoppers in Valley Stream, New York, waited outside for the 5:00 am opening of the local Wal-Mart. As opening time approached, the crowd grew anxious and when the doors were opened the crowd pushed forward, breaking the door down, and trampling a 34-year old employee to death. The shoppers did not appear concerned with the victim’s fate, expressing refusal to halt their stampede when other employees attempted to intervene and help the injured employee, complaining that they had been waiting in the cold and were not willing to wait any longer.
- On the same day, two people were fatally shot during an altercation at a Toys ‘r Us in Palm Desert, California.
- A Madison, Wisconsin woman was arrested outside of a Toys ‘R’ Us store after cutting in line, and threatening to shoot other shoppers who tried to object. A Toys for Tots volunteer in Georgia was stabbed by a shoplifter.
- An Indianapolis woman was arrested after causing a disturbance by arguing with other Wal-Mart shoppers.
- A man was arrested at a Florida Wal-Mart on drug and weapons charges after other shoppers waiting in line for the store to open noticed that he was carrying a handgun and reported the matter to police. He was discovered to also be carrying two knives and a pepper spray grenade.
- A man in Buffalo, New York, was trampled when doors opened at a Target store and unruly shoppers rushed in, in an episode reminiscent of the deadly 2008 Wal-Mart stampede.
- A woman at a Porter Ranch, California Walmart used pepper spray on fellow shoppers. It was later reported that the incident caused 20 injuries. The incident started as people waited in line for the newly discounted Xbox 360. A witness said a woman with two children in tow became upset with the way people were pushing in line.
- In an incident outside a Walmart store in San Leandro, California, one man was wounded after being shot following Black Friday shopping at about 1:45 am.
- 73-year old greeter Jan Sullivan was fired from a Tampa area Wal-Mart after she was shoved by a Black Friday shopper. Sullivan alleges that when she attempted to stop an unnamed woman from exiting through a door where exits were not being permitted, the woman pushed her.
- Two people were shot outside a Wal-Mart in Tallahassee, Florida during a dispute over a parking space.
- A person in Las Vegas who was carrying a big-screen TV home from a Target store on Thanksgiving was shot in the leg as he tried to wrestle the item back from a robber who had just stolen it from him at gunpoint.
- In Romeoville IL, a police officer shot a suspected shoplifter driving a car that was dragging a fellow officer at a Kohl’s department store. The suspect and the dragged officer were treated for shoulder injuries. Three people were arrested.
- At the Franklin Mills Mall in Pennsylvania a fight was caught on camera in which a woman was taken to the ground. The video also caught a separate possibly related fight happening simultaneously.”
Source: Wikipedia. They have references. Go ahead and look them all up if you want.
It’s not just the day of chaos and misery that’s the problem. One day really doesn’t make that big of a difference. Except that by legitimizing this Bacchanalian orgy of greed and class privilege, this paragon of waste, we send the message that these attitudes are acceptable to us. We make a virtue out of vice.
I suppose I can understand the attraction to the Dark Side. Sometimes it can be liberating to revel in vice, or what we have been told is vice. There might be a need to observe a catharsis of darker impulses in our natures. I’ve been to some very sexy Beltanes, some very large Yuletide feasts, and some very drunk parties in the SCA. That’s lust, gluttony and drunkenness I guess.
But chastity is a Christian virtue and the other two I was sorry for. Temperance might, or might not, be a virtue that a Pagan aspires to. But hospitality and generosity certainly are, in pretty much every tradition I know. So I urge you not to support Black Friday. I urge you to spend your hard-earned money in better and more efficient ways, and refuse to buy into this feeding frenzy; which serves no purpose except to make a few billionaires even richer on the backs of the working class and the poor. And if you can, please buy from crafters, artists and small, local businesses, and stay out of the big box stores.