In a time-honoured tradition that stretches all the way back to 2013, Australian shopaholics have marked this Friday 26 November as Black Friday, a red-letter day when retailers advertise massive sales.
Black Friday is the day after Thanksgiving (the fourth Thursday in November) perhaps the most uniquely American holiday that marks the arrival of the Puritans in Massachusetts in 1620.
In modern times, as most Americans took the two days off work, the Friday was “black” because it was the most congested shopping and traffic day of the year.
So why is Black Friday a thing over here?
Good question. One I might ask the people at the anti-vax rally in Mount Gambier on the weekend who held up a sign proclaiming that vaccine mandates violated the 14th Amendment to the Constitution. I’m no High Court Judge (and I suspect neither are they) but I do know they’re confusing the American with the Australian Constitution.
And in the stampede to get our hands on bargains – just a few weeks before the Boxing Day sales – we have forgotten that in Australia, and especially in Victoria, the term “Black Friday” has a particularly tragic meaning. On Friday January 13, 1939, bushfires destroyed two million hectares of bushland and 71 lives were lost.
Now that there are so few people left who can recall the horror of that day, it’s worth reminding ourselves that it was the worst natural disaster in our history, eclipsed only by later bushfires on Ash Wednesday, 1983 and Black Saturday, 2009.
And speaking of history, I’d like to know why do we flock to the (admittedly brilliant) musical Hamilton but have no idea about our own history, European or Indigenous. And why Scott Morrison has started placing his hand on his heart during the national anthem.