Friday ‘Black Friday’ Café
Don’t miss this week’s ‘Black Friday‘ Café!
There is a strange tradition which started in the USA: on the Friday following the American Thanksgiving, stores have huge sales or offer great discounts on many items. Some people storm through the stores as soon as the doors open, and other people even camp all night near the doors to be the first to grab the best deals. It follows the Thanksgiving celebration, an American holiday which goes back to the Pilgrim Fathers. The end of the harvesting season was the reason for this social gathering. Nowadays families get together and have a feast with traditional food.
But Black Friday is not a celebration unless you want to celebrate “consumerization” or mass consumption.
In Homeric poetry there is no mention of promotional sales, bargains or sales, no Black Friday—no day named Friday yet; their calendar depended on the moon, and they did not use the Roman calendar. But we have a fine description of what seems like an orgy of goods from the list of potential gifts proposed to Achilles when Agamemnon sends an embassy to convince him to go back to fight and save the Achaeans. The mention of women as gifts is a reminder that women were often considered as objects then.
I will give him seven tripods that have never yet been on the fire, and ten talents of gold. I will give him twenty iron cauldrons and twelve strong horses that have won races and carried off prizes. … And I will give seven women, skilled in flawless handiwork [erga], women from Lesbos… and if hereafter the gods grant that I destroy the city of Priam, let him come when we Achaeans are dividing the spoil, and load his ship with gold and bronze to his liking; furthermore let him take twenty Trojan women, the loveliest after Helen herself. Then, when we reach Achaean Argos, wealthiest of all lands, he shall be my son-in-law and I will show him like honor with my own dear son Orestes, who is being nurtured in all abundance. I have three daughters,  Khrysothemis, Laodike, and Iphianassa, let him take the one of his choice, freely and without gifts of wooing, to the house of Peleus; I will add such dower to boot as no man ever yet gave his daughter, and will give him seven well established cities…
Iliad 9, Sourcebook
But Achilles is not lured into this trap of abundance, and says no thank you, because he values his life more than wealth.
My life [psūkhē] is worth more to me than all the wealth  that was once possessed, so they say, by that well-situated citadel of Ilion…
Iliad 9, Sourcebook
I am not too keen on amassing goods and I stay away from stores when they are filled with avid shoppers. To be honest I dislike shopping if I have to stay in a mall for more than an hour!
I am wondering if buying compulsively could be a sign of filling a void, or losing one’s soul in the process. However, I must admit that I sometimes fall into the trap of post-Christmas sales.
What about you? Do you buy only what you really need? Do you like this new tradition of Black Friday? Do you take the opportunity of getting an object that you need at a low price on that day, or do you stay away from this type of festivities?
Does another special day like “Boxing Day,” when sales are held in the UK and some other countries, seem more attractive to you?
What do you think of the whole process? Are we brainwashed and manipulated by the publicists?
I am sipping some black tea with lemon and honey, and nibbling on some ginger cookies, “on sale” this week at the bakery…I could not resist and bought four boxes! So join me, order a virtual drink of your choice, and choose a comfortable chair by the hearth where a big log is burning.
Paul Townsend: 1950s Bristol Shoppers queue to get a bargain in the sales
Creative Commons CC BY-ND 2.0