In this part of the world, Nigeria, where I come from, Christmas is the season for shopping. Recently, Black Friday has become popular among the youths and upper class living in urban areas like Lagos and Port Harcourt. Thanksgiving on the other hand…hmmm, is not popular yet. I know of churches that mark a ‘Thanksgiving Sunday’ which is not the same Thanksgiving celebrated in the US. What most Nigerians don’t know is that there is a big relationship between Thanksgiving day, Black Friday, and Christmas.
What is Thanksgiving Day all about?
Thanksgiving Day began as a harvest festival. The event that Americans commonly call the “First Thanksgiving” was celebrated by the Pilgrims after their first harvest in the New World in October 1621. Most native Americans do not share this sentiment since it reminds them of how their lands were stolen by the American Pilgrims. Now it is celebrated as a day for uniting families and giving thanks for blessings made throughout the year.
Thanksgiving Day is celebrated every fourth Thursday of November. It forms an important part of the United States’ culture and marks the beginning of the holiday season of Christmas and New Year. The big connection so far is that Black Friday, which comes up on the day after Thanksgiving, sparking off a massive buying spree of gifts to be used for the Yuletide season.
Thanksgiving Day is also celebrated in Canada on the second Monday of October. Similar holidays exist in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, and the Netherlands.
Connection of Thanksgiving with Black Friday and Christmas
The day after Thanksgiving is the unofficial beginning of the holiday season. This started in the late 19th century when President Abraham Lincoln designated the Thanksgiving holiday as the last Thursday in November. This is the official kick-off for Christmas and New Year holiday shopping. Retailers across the country slash prices, opening up into the wee hours of the next morning. The aftermath of this is that you get shoppers to line up outside stores in order to be the first to grab that special and hard-to-find bargain deal.
In Nigeria, the craze for Black Friday has certainly taken root. Most Nigerians see Black Friday as an opportunity to get expensive items at very low prices. Big brands like Shoprite, Jumia, Konga, Spar, and so on, anticipate a huge sale turn out during this period. These businesses also use Black Friday as an avenue to clear out items that may have been in the warehouse for a long time.
Impact of COVID19 and #EndSARS lockdown on Black Friday
After passing through most of the year under two lockdowns, the purchasing power of the average Nigerian is diminished. There’s still fear from a looming lockdown from either a COVID19 or another #EndSARS protest. The protest also led to a widespread level of insecurity.
Another strike that is gathering momentum is the threat coming from the Nigeria Labour Union over a recent hike in petrol price. All these uncertainties may mar the Black Friday event.
One group that may not bother about Black Friday is The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) who embarked on a nationwide industrial action on March 23, 2020, following its dispute with the Federal Government over the implementation of the IPPIS in the payment of University lecturers’ salaries and allowances, as against the ASUU-developed homegrown payment platform, UTAS, which they believe guarantees the autonomy of the university.
The negative impact of the economy on Black Friday is understandable. This will invariably reflect on how the Yuletide holidays will look like. But like we say in Nigeria, “money dey where e dey” literally meaning that money is where It is – among the super-rich. No doubt, there won’t be any issues for the super-rich shopping during Black Friday.