Wednesday, 22 November 2017

That Black Friday Feeling

The Americans think that Thanksgiving is religious, while the British think that Christmas is not. The Puritans despised harvest festivals, and ruthlessly suppressed them. The association of Thanksgiving with the Pilgrim Fathers is also a fiction. A pious fiction, but a fiction all the same. Unlike the holding up of the Puritans as apostles and prophets of religious liberty. That is an outright lie, and downright pernicious. Every year, I give thanks that they left England.

But if we must have Black Friday, then we ought at least to precede it with Thanksgiving. As it is, our cultural relationship with the United States is perfectly encapsulated by the fact that we have managed to adopt Black Friday but not any form of Thanksgiving. We only ever take the bad from America, never the good. As a Catholic, I wish that the American bishops would declare a day of fasting, abstinence and penance on this "Black Friday".

The supermarket chains claim that one in six people in Britain now keeps Thanksgiving. Utter bilge, of course. It is kept only by expatriate Americans and by the members of their households, a tiny proportion of the population. The major Jewish, Islamic, Hindu and Sikh festivals are all bigger, and they are all small minority interests. But our commercial overlords obviously see both Thanksgiving and Black Friday as enormous opportunities, to be made part of the cultural mainstream by the old trick of pretending that they already were, so as to make everyone else feel abnormal and as if we were missing out.

I honestly do not think that half of these corporations even know that Thanksgiving and Black Friday do not, or at least did not, exist outside the United States. They keep them without even thinking about it, and such is their power that, as a result, those days do now exist in more and more of the world. Within 10 years, and possibly five, the media will refer to them as "traditional", and the run-up to Thanksgiving will see it taught as such in primary schools.

But the world turns. Which Chinese festivals will we all be keeping another 10 years again after that? Right now, I would make all four of St George's Day, St Andrew's Day, St David's Day and St Patrick's Day public holidays throughout the United Kingdom, rather than pointless celebrations of the mere fact that the banks are on holiday. Three of those are in these Islands' incomparable spring and early summer, while the fourth, being 30th November, would mark the last day on which nothing, absolutely nothing, Christmas-related would be allowed.

No comments:

Post a comment