This Thursday, we gather with family and friends to celebrate Thanksgiving. Many of these relatives and friends, we are happy to see after a prolonged separation. Others, we sit with in uncomfortable silence as we tolerate their presence, and count down the time until it is time to part for another year.

Within every relationship circle, there are individuals who seek to sow discord among the rest. Intentional or not, these people bring up topics that generate heated debates or arguments, and ruin the tone of this holiday.

A few years ago, a meme posted on the Internet concerning Black Friday produced these results. The meme claimed that “Black Friday” originated back in the 1800s as a day when Southern plantation owners could buy slaves at a discount on the day after Thanksgiving. This misrepresentation of Black Friday’s roots led some to call for a boycott of the retail holiday, though it had no basis in fact.

Here is the truth about Thanksgiving and Black Friday.

The first Thanksgiving was celebrated in Plymouth, Massachusetts, by the 51 surviving members from the Mayflower and 91 tribal members of the Wampanoag in 1621. Their feast was made up of boiled eels, venison, wild duck, clams, mussels, cornbread, and plums. A far cry from the turkey and stuffing we eat today. The feast was a big success but it wasn’t until 50 years later that another Thanksgiving feast was held in Plymouth.

For the next 200 years, Thanksgiving Day was strictly a New England holiday. Each year, governors, and occasionally presidents, decided if and when they would celebrate Thanksgiving. Sometimes it was celebrated in July, September, October or November. There was never a set month for the holiday.

Americans in the South looked at this “Yankee” holiday suspiciously, and refused to recognize its existence. Thanksgiving did not officially become a federal holiday until 1863 under Abraham Lincoln when the southern states were in rebellion. Therefore, Black Friday did not even have a chance to exist prior to 1863.

As for the true origin of “Black Friday,” it was first used in 1869 to describe an attempt to corner the gold market. Slavery ended four years earlier in 1865 with ratification of the 13th Amendment.

Black Friday has had different meanings over the years. It was used by the Philadelphia police to describe the bedlam that occurred the day before the Army-Navy game when swarms of people descended upon the city the Friday after Thanksgiving for the Saturday game.

Black Friday’s current meaning refers to the change in the color of the ink used by accountants in the ledgers of retail stores. Red ink is traditionally used when stores are operating at a loss and black ink is used when stores are making profits. Since the Friday after Thanksgiving is the first day of the Christmas shopping season, this term is used to describe the influx of revenue the stores will receive as shoppers take advantage of holiday deals.

The meme attempting to link Black Friday with slavery had no basis in fact and revealed a huge problem with social media and the Internet as a whole. It revealed that people are easily fooled by misinformation when it fits the belief system that they wish to be true.

If you take anything from this article, I hope that it is instead of “believing” everything you read on the Internet, “research” everything you read on the Internet.

Happy Thanksgiving and we wish you and your family well. Sincerely, the Guadalupe County Libertarians.

Anthony was the Libertarian candidate for U.S. Congress in district 15 of Texas.

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