Compositions & Coffee Presents: "Creative Soul Digest"
Back 2 Life Style Journey
It’s Back 2 Life Journey Thursday and I’m excited to continue our discussion of holiday décor. First though, I was having a discussion the other day with a friend about Black Friday and found myself sitting here thinking of how I still don’t know why it’s called Black Friday. So in case any of you have found yourself asking the same thing I thought I’d share…
Black Friday History
Per The History Channel, the first recorded use of the term “Black Friday” was applied not to the holiday but to financial crisis: specifically, the crash of the U.S. gold market on September 4, 1869. Two notoriously ruthless Wall Street financiers, Jay Gould and Jim Fisk, worked together to buy up as much as they could of the nation’s gold, hoping to drive the price sky-high and sell it for astonishing profits. On that Friday in September, the conspiracy finally unraveled, sending the stock market into free-fall and bankrupting everyone from Wall Street barons to farmers.
Another story that has been tossed around was the notion post-Thanksgiving shopping drove retail stores out of the red-loss state they had previously been in into a black-profit state. The day after Thanksgiving shoppers would flock to retail stores blowing much of their money on discounted merchandise in preparation for Christmas causing retail stores to now make more profit. The colors red for loss and black for profit was something accountants would do when recording data. However, this story has been found to be an telling behind its tradition.
Another myth has been that back in the 1800s plantation owners could buy their slaves at a discount price the day after Thanksgiving thus giving Black Friday its origin. This myth led some to boycott retail stores, however, it’s not an accurate account.
The real story behind Black Friday began in the 1950s in the city of Philadelphia. The term actually came from describing the hordes of suburban shoppers and tourists that flooded the city the day after Thanksgiving to observe the Army-Navy football game held every Saturday. The crowds of people and shoplifters that would take advantage were difficult for law enforcement to handle and would mean extra-long shifts during this time. By 1961, “Black Friday” had caught on and merchants tried unsuccessfully to change the name to “Big Friday” in order to remove the negative connotations. However, the term didn’t stick and the term “Black Friday” didn’t spread to much of the country until much later. By the late 1980s retailers found a way to reinvent Black Friday and turn it into something positive. The “red to black” concept of the holiday for retail sales and the fact that the day after Thanksgiving marked a profit occasion for American stores was born. This new story finally stuck and the traditional dark roots born out of Philidelphia were forgotten. Since the 80s the one day sale has turned into a 4 day and even week long sale and created other retail holidays such as Small Business Saturdays/ Sunday and Cyber Monday. This also meant stores would began opening earlier and earlier and for some dedicated shoppers they could go shopping right after their Thanksgiving meal.
I personally was never a fan of “Brown Thursday” as I coined it when I worked in retail and had to work on Thanksgiving. I felt as though many people didn’t have a choice and would have to be ripped away from their family during a time of thanks. Therefore, I’ve never participated in Thursday. I’ve done Black Friday twice and wasn’t a fan of how people treat each other or retail workers so that has never been a thing. I also feel as though it’s more for electronics since the deals and price drops are easily spotted there. If you want to buy anything else any day in December you can find deals. Well, folks now you know so you can enjoy the rest of you shopping this holiday season and share some history with friends and family.
Decorating in the community
Displaying Christmas lights didn’t become a common ritual until after World War II. The display of front yard lights is also very unique to Americans. It boomed in popularity in America during the 1950s when the vice-president of the Noma Electric Company predicted a boom in the economy that would lead to an increase in Christmas lights. Many communities previously embraced their electrically-lit Christmas tree as their focal point but between the 50s-60s Christmas lights began to be strung elsewhere in the city as part of the holiday celebration. In 1957 the sixty-five-foot tree in Rockfeller Center was brilliantly lit and that same year the Miracle Mile was also illuminated by 27 giant snowmen along Wilshire Blvd. Soon those gazing out at the lights from their car and nearby houses desired bigger and better light displays. Soon cities everywhere began to do brilliant bright light displays such as Altadena’s world famous display of mile long rows of giant Himalayan deodar trees that were strung with thousands of colored electric lights. It was said to be so bright that cars driving by turned off their headlights and used the lights from the trees for guidance. GE also has sponsored competitions that encouraged homeowners, churches, shops, and factory plants participation. Competitions were also held between cities which encouraged further widespread light decorating. In 1956, Orange County held a lighting event called 40 Miles of Christmas Smiles which encouraged a county wide lighting event. This encouraged people to display unique fixtures and also brought communities together.
Today it’s impossible to imagine Christmas without outdoor lighting and competition within communities. From displays that incorporate music to outdoor nativity scenes people drive by and flock to neighborhoods with large emmaculate displays. In America the lights of the community have been dubbed as a “sense of hope within vast darkness” and “ a place to share ritual and common identity.”
This year, friends, that statement is even more meaningful since we haven’t seen a time like this in our lifetime and the world hasn’t had this experience in over a century. Thinking of this need for hope in a 'dark time' and a 'common space for identity' community lighting for the holidays seems like a necessity. This year I was able to see my brother’s neighborhood come together and form this common identity and offer that sense of hope. They strung string lights in different patterns on their front lawns and put a red garter around their trees. Some still incorporated their normal lights but to show community this was seen throughout the neighborhood. We had the pleasure of walking throughout the neighborhood, following Black Friday, admiring the lights and conversing with the neighbors. It was truly a moment to take in and feel connected during a time where we are encouraged to stay apart.
Below are the pictures from the neighborhood…
If you are looking to do the same in your community or just some neat ideas here are some that I’m sure you will enjoy:
Presents on Lawn
Candy/Lollipop in Bushes
Ornaments on the Lawn
Current Neighborhood Traditions
Altadena- Christmas Tree Lane
Candy Cane Lane
Block Light Tunnel
Everyone has their unique traditions and I LOVE IT! I’ve had the pleasure of seeing many different families style of decorating for the holidays and I’ve found myself in awe. I, myself, love to change things up each year but keep some of our families unique elements intact. For those of you looking to add some flare or even do something completely different this year here’s some amazing ideas…
Now, I turn it over to you. Please share some amazing pictures and ideas that your household does each year. I’d also love to hear about your community traditions and how you are doing things this year. I have some amazing black owned home décor businesses for you to check out and get some more inspiration as well. Check out the book recommendation for today and make sure to get some delicious coffee to warm you on cold mornings. See you Friday and as always…
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