Wry & Dry

Black Friday

W&D dismally notes that 'Black Friday' shopping has appeared in Australia.  In the USA Black Friday is the day after Thanksgiving (the 4th Thursday in November, and erroneously believed to be in remembrance of the turkeys that were sacrificed to give thanks to God for the good harvest in Plymouth, Massachusetts in 1621 [4]) and is traditionally the commencement of the US Christmas shopping season. 

But Black Friday has been hijacked by, especially, online retailers as the opportunity to create another selling 'event'.   Black Friday spread to the UK five years ago, when Amazon brought the shopping event across the Atlantic.  It has now become the UK's biggest shopping day of the year.

And in Australia, a close relative of W&D has noticed online retailers offering Black Friday deals in Australian time zones (AEDT is 14 hours ahead of New York time).  Good grief, another version of the Boxing Day Sales.  And another opportunity for Myer to lose even more money.

The more serious of W&D readers (well, all of you, then) know, of course (ahem), that American retailers can thank Henry VIII for Thanksgiving and, hence, for Black Friday.  For those who might have forgotten the reason, see footnote [4], below.

-       Anthony Starkins

[1]  Moët & Chandon is a French winemaker and co-owner of the luxury goods company Moët-Hennessy Louis Vuitton.  In W&D's context, Moët refers to French champagne.

[2]  His name is really Scott Morrison, but the Morrison that W&D fondly remembers is Jim Morrison of that amazing 1960s rock group, The Doors.  And hence the perhaps misapplied appellation.  But, what the heck.  The original Jim Morrison died in a Paris bath tub in 1971, aged 27.  

[3]  For example, that provider charges a $1,000,000 client 0.044% per month on the assets advised.  This is 0.53% per annum, i.e. $5,300.  That fee is for computer generated advice.  First Samuel's fee for personal, tailored and individual advice given by a qualified and experienced expert that eats, breathes and talks is about an average of $6,000 - depending on client circumstances. 

[4]  Thanksgiving, notwithstanding that most Americans believe it to be an American tradition, has its roots in the English Reformation.  In the English tradition, days of thanksgiving and special thanksgiving religious services became important during the English Reformation in the reign of Henry VIII and in reaction to the large number of religious holidays on the Catholic calendar. Before 1536 there were 95 Church holidays, plus 52 Sundays, when people were required to attend church and forego work and sometimes pay for expensive celebrations.

The 1536 reforms reduced the number of Church holidays to 27, but some Puritans wished to completely eliminate all Church holidays, including Christmas and Easter. The holidays were to be replaced by specially called Days of Fast and Days of Thanksgiving, in response to events that the Puritans viewed as acts of special providence.  Unexpected disasters or threats of judgement from on high called for Days of Fasting. Special blessings, viewed as coming from God, called for Days of Thanksgiving.

For example, Days of Fasting were called on account of drought in 1611, floods in 1613, and plagues in 1604 and 1622. Days of Thanksgiving were called following the victory over the Spanish Armada in 1588.  An unusual annual Day of Thanksgiving began in 1606 following the failure of the Gunpowder Plot in 1605 and developed into Guy Fawkes Day (5th of November).  Guy Fawkes Day, in the UK became Bonfire Night, with fireworks.  And that tradition was well entrenched in Australia until (in Victoria) 1985, when fireworks were banned from retail sale.  As 'crackers' went, so did the memory Guy Fawkes and his plot.

W&D is pushing for 15th September to be a Day of Thanksgiving in Australia, that being the day when ...oh, never mind.