The Great Debate: Turkey Before Tree & The Advertising Industry’s Effect on the Holiday Season

November has arrived and for some that means the holidays are just around the corner, and for others, like myself, that means that the holiday season is in full swing.

When you’re raised in a household like mine, there is no question about when the holidays start. Once Halloween is over, it’s time to get holly jolly, but where does that desire come from? Do we just really enjoy the holiday season, or is there some outside force that has helped to influence our desire to celebrate Christmas for an extended amount of time? Let’s find out!

When we think of the history of Thanksgiving, oftentimes a tranquil scene of settlers making peace with the natives over a shared meal comes to mind, but that’s not really what we’re talking about today. We are talking all about how Thanksgiving has become one of the most overlooked holidays of the year. Rather than being a time for family, it is now overshadowed by the desire to find the cheapest toy and the best gift. America’s time to sit back and give thanks has become no more than a holiday quickly celebrated, and even more quickly forgotten.

Although Americans have been celebrating Thanksgiving since 1789, thanks George Washington, the Thanksgiving that we all know today wasn’t made official until 1941 by President Franklin D. Roosevelt. In 1939, Thanksgiving was destined to fall on the final day of November. With the fear of a shortened Christmas shopping season and its potential effect on the US economy looming over FDR’s head, he decided to change the date of Thanksgiving to the system we have now. By the 1970s and 80s Black Friday had taken over any economic fears felt in 1939, and it had securely replaced them with feelings of a very lucrative holiday for advertisers and storefronts alike.

So what does all of this history have to do with advertising? Although an already widely celebrated day, it is said that the real effects of Black Friday weren’t felt until as late as 2005. This is when the sales stopped happening just on Friday and started bleeding into Thanksgiving Day itself. I’m sure many of you have family members that sit at the Thanksgiving table planning out which deals they’re going to hit early the next morning, or even that night. 

This is all a side effect of advertising. By definition, advertising affects human beings by leading us to associate happiness with consumerism; therefore, you believe that you have to go get that specific bike for your child because the ad told you it was the cheapest price in town and it will make your child happy. You just have to get the new Apple Watch because they’ve never been priced that low, but you’ll have to fight the crowds. It’s fine though, because the advertisements told you it was the thing to do. Don’t get me wrong, I too have been Black Friday shopping and enjoy it very much, but even the biggest of Black Friday shoppers can see that the day after Thanksgiving has helped to erase the actual holiday itself.

Now there are other major players in the Turkey Before Tree debate. Just look at Hallmark. Hallmark’s Countdown to Christmas (on all 3 channels, might I add) starts before Halloween now and runs through the New Year. Heck, they even do a whole ‘Christmas in July’ special every summer that has been extended year after year. Thanksgiving doesn’t even get a chance to have it’s own space anymore. Sure, Hobby Lobby starts putting their fall decor out in June, but they don’t waste anytime quickly following up with a little Christmas magic, do they? 

So as you can see there isn’t just one aspect of the advertising industry that has helped Christmas overshadow Thanksgiving, it’s a whole plethora of forces that have come together to influence the masses into believing that finding that one great deal, or watching a dozen cheesy movies, or buying a Christmas tree in August are things they just have to do. There are always going to be outside influences that will have an effect on you, but maybe, just maybe you’ll start to see them a little more clearly. 

Oh and one more thing, if you are someone (like myself) that enjoys celebrating Christmas more than 25 days of the year, that’s cool. Do you! But I challenge you to also take a hold of that desire for a holly jolly good time and find some space for Thanksgiving. We can’t keep putting the darn tree before the turkey.

Where do you fall on The Great Debate? Let us know by commenting below, and remember to follow along with our blog month to month.

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