As we rapidly approach the holiday season, we know you are going to be bombarded by the likes of Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and a whole host of other commercially engineered ‘holiday deals’.
If you are American, you are fortunate to be able to celebrate Thanksgiving before this onslaught. Thanksgiving is in many ways the perfect sort of holiday; one that brings together families and friends over feasts of turkey, pecan pie, pumpkin pie, cranberry sauce and other fine foods (including, we hope, craft chocolate).
As the name suggests, ‘Thanksgiving’ is about giving thanks; it’s celebrated by red and blue states, it’s non-denominational and above all it’s about celebrating with neighbours, friends and family on the fourth Thursday of November (so yes we are cutting it a bit fine as it’s next week!).
The history of Thanksgiving is complex and increasingly it’s been hijacked by Black Friday.
Despite the attractive story, the first Thanksgiving wasn’t the one celebrated at Plymouth Rock, Massachusetts in 1621 between the Pilgrim Fathers and the local Wampanaog tribe. Earlier ‘Thanksgivings’ can be dated to Virginia in 1607. And, more importantly, the Wampamaog enjoyed few other Thanksgivings after being slaughtered by their neighbourly colonialists over the next generation.
Thanksgiving also provides a great example of the power of local states and governors versus the power of Washington DC and the presidency. For much of US history, Thanksgiving wasn’t a national holiday. It was only in 1863 that President Abraham Lincoln who, as part of his unification efforts, made Thanksgiving a national holiday.
And even then, different states insisted on asserting their local control from the central government in Washington by celebrating Thanksgiving on different Thursdays. Again, it wasn’t the late 1940s that President Roosevelt finally persuaded all the US States to agree on the fourth Thursday in November as being ‘Thanksgiving’.
And the Origins of Black Friday
Inevitably, retailers realised the commercial potential of the Friday, Saturday and Sunday following this family get-together at Thanksgiving and launched promotions, sales and all sorts of events.
By the mid-1960s, the traffic to malls and shopping centres had become so bad that the Thanksgiving weekend traffic was being called “Black Friday”. The term is thought to have been first coined in Philadelphia in the mid-1960s with bus drivers and police using “Black Friday” to describe the heavy traffic that would clog city streets the day after Thanksgiving as shoppers headed to the stores.
Giving Thanks, Not Giving it to Commercialisation
Black Friday, and now Cyber Monday, have now become an international phenomenon. It’s sadly becoming more and more of a discounting extravaganza, which far from ‘giving thanks’ is all too often about distraction and complicated deals (that often really aren’t deals).
We don’t think that discounting and special offers are a great way of celebrating either Thanksgiving or craft chocolate. So we won’t be holding any special sales next Black Friday or Cyber Monday. Instead, over the Thanksgiving and Black Friday weekend, we will be donating 5% of all our sales to ‘Chocs for Docs‘ (the programme we launched in lockdown where we send craft chocolate boxes to NHS doctors, nurses, cleaning staff, volunteers, etc. to thank them for their efforts).
In an effort to encourage you to do your holiday shopping earlier, and to bundle your shopping together, we’re also offering free tracked shipping, in the UK for all orders over £50, of craft chocolate bars and bar gift sets from this weekend until the first week of December (please see the website for terms and conditions etc.).
So you can give thanks to the NHS, save on shipping, and, if you bundle your orders, reduce your carbon footprint by having fewer deliveries and corrugate boxes.
Some Other Suggestions for Thanksgiving
Returning to the spirit of giving thanks with great food and wine, we’ve also curated two Thanksgiving boxes, and an event next Thursday (Thanksgiving) where we will be celebrating how craft chocolate and wine pair together.
- The first box celebrates the foods involved in Thanksgiving. We’ve a sweet potato bar from Hogarth in New Zealand, a potato chip bar from BOHO in the US, a cranberry bar from MIA in Madagascar, and a bar crafted with Mexican beans from Georgia Ramon in Germany (this latter bar is in honour of Thanksgiving turkeys… which apparently hail from Mexico).
- The second box showcases five US craft chocolate makers, spanning the US from East to West (including the Midwest): Askinosie, BOHO, French Broad, Dandelion and Goodnow Farms).