Today in America it’s all about shopping.
The Friday after Thanksgiving, is the start of the Christmas shopping season in the United States. Some say the reason it’s called Black Friday is because this is the day retailers in the USA start to turn a profit for the year. All I know is that if I was made to go shopping to Macy’s, JC Penney, Saks, Sears, or Wal-Mart, or anywhere else come to that, at some unearthly hour the day after Thanksgiving, then I’d be in a pretty black mood by the close of play. Most manly men don’t go for the frenzy of naked consumerism and implausible bargains on offer today.
Even though we don’t have Thanksgiving in England, most retail outlets here are trying to introduce the idea of ‘Black Friday Shopping’ to the English. Like most things which cross the Atlantic from West to East, (American cars, American Halloween, American humor, American Presidents), the materialism of Black Friday doesn’t really work well here.
For a start, unlike a lot of people in a lot of US states, nobody here has today as vacation, so we don’t have to find something to do with our time. Secondly, we English are a cynical and untrusting lot, and generally think the Black Friday hype is just an attempt by retailers to increase sales volume while at the same time offloading all the crap they can’t sell at any other time of the year. (Black Friday ‘deals’ are almost inevitably at the rip-off end of the spectrum.) On top of that, November really is a little too early to be the start of the ‘Christmas Season’.
And, what the average American may not know is that we English have had our very own Black Friday for centuries. In England Black Friday is any Friday the 13th, and that is a day on which bad things happen. Nothing good ever happens on any Friday 13th, and it’s become a day to be dreaded; ladders, mirrors, and black cats especially. There’s even a name for the fear of Friday 13th paraskevidekatriaphobia.
I’m pretty certain that a lot of American men also dread their very own version of Black Friday. This is a time when all good men really need their urban survival skills. They could always say they can’t go shopping because they suffer from paraskevidekatriaphobia. Maybe not, it’s a very long word.