Should Black Friday Start on Thanksgiving Thursday?: Early Holiday Sales Cheapen the Meaning of the Season

by The Cowl Editor on November 29, 2018


Photo of a long line of people standing outside Target at night.
Many shoppers begin lining up for Black Friday sales on the night of Thanksgiving. Photo courtesy of Jessica Rinaldi/Reuters.

by: Joshua Chlebowski ’21

Opinion Staff

Everyone would love to extend the holiday season—imagine having lights up and seeing acts of generosity every day of the year. However, the unfortunate fact of the matter is that this is exactly what retailers have done in recent years, and it has come with a cost.

Commercial businesses love the idea of extending the holiday season because they believe it will also lead to an increase in revenue and sales. However, their attempts to do so detract from the enjoyment one feels while engaging in holiday activities.

When Christmas decorations go on sale Columbus Day weekend, people feel joyful knowing the holidays are approaching; holiday music soon begins to infiltrate advertisements, directing one’s thoughts towards preparations for the season of giving and buying presents.

The issue with this is that the joy one feels when experiencing these holiday novelties for the first time of the season is short-lived. Soon after feeling that rush of joy, a little voice reminds us that we actually have another month or two before the season really takes off.

As a result, we accept the holiday music, sales, and décor and move on with our lives.

By the time Thanksgiving ends, and people start expressing holiday cheer in all types of settings, we are already tired of the season. The novelty and initial joy have worn off, and participation in holiday activities lacks a sense of complete joy.

Extending the holiday season may benefit some retailers, but it fails to acknowledge that the success of the holiday season is because of the attitudes that go with it. The holiday season is more than just giving gifts, seeing decorations, and hearing festive songs. There is a mentality which cannot be replaced, despite the best attempts of commercialism.

The holiday spirit should reside in spending time with loved ones, reminiscing and creating new memories, the intangible experiences, and the laughter that occurs so frequently during the holiday season.

While retailers try to extend the season, they actually wind up diluting everything that makes the holidays enjoyable. By jumpstarting the excitement for the holidays, these businesses prey on the holiday memories we have in an attempt to make us invest in the material.

Sure, everyone loves a good sale, and it is always nice to be prepared before the season hits, but these discounts speed our minds to December, creating a false pressure to start buying gifts right away instead of waiting.

This pressure leads to a loss of focus in the present moment. Thanksgiving passes by in a whirl, cast aside in the pursuit of those holiday gifts and the commercial holiday experience.

There is nothing wrong with enjoying a good Black Friday deal or spending money on friends and family.

It is when the pursuit of these gifts and sales overtakes the thought behind the gifts, and when the commercial comes before the quality time, and when the holiday season becomes one long rush from October to December as opposed to the short period between Thanksgiving and New Year’ that issues arise.

By trying to extend the season by jumping at every holiday sale, convinced the latest decoration or sale item will replicate the joys of the season, we do exactly what commercial businesses want us to—spend money when it is not needed.

If we are going to try and extend the holiday season, we have to extend the intangible aspects: the kindness we show strangers, the optimism we display during everyday interactions, and the uninhibited expressions of love and appreciation for friends and family.