Fun Facts About Black Friday

  • November 23, 2013
  • Jenna Maxwell

Thanksgiving has traditionally been one of the least commercialized holidays out there.  This beloved day known for feasting, family, football and relaxation is however, followed up by one of the most celebrated shopping days of the year, Black Friday.  Black Friday has become very well known and popular over the last few decades and is now recognized as the official kick off to the Christmas shopping season. Black Friday is also a day that shoppers love because of the very special sales and promotions that are enticingly offered by retailers.

Retailers have long been trying to motivate shoppers to get out and begin their Christmas shopping the day after Thanksgiving.  Some of the larger department stores (like Macy’s) started holding big parades in order to lure people out on this day and attempt to get them into the Christmas spirit.  These types of events were a very effective method of Christmas advertising and tended to put people in a mood to shop! 

By the 1930’s the day after Thanksgiving was promoted heavily by retailers as the first day of the Christmas shopping season, but this day was not officially known as “Black Friday” until many years later.  The term “Black Friday” has a couple of potential sources.  Some say that retailers refer to the day after Thanksgiving as Black Friday because it is the day that their sales/numbers go from being in the red to being in the black.  Another possible source of the phrase “Black Friday” has nothing to do whatsoever with retail sales.  Sometime back in the 1960’s, Philadelphia police officers supposedly nicknamed the Friday after Thanksgiving Black Friday because of the serious traffic jams, crowded sidewalks and general overpopulated chaos that was caused by the throngs of Christmas shoppers out and about in the city on this most favored shopping day.

So how big of a deal is Black Friday to both shoppers and retailers?  Here are some startling statistics about this most epic shopping day.

  • Over 135 million people will shop in retail stores on Black Friday.
  • In 2012, about 11.2 billion dollars was spent in retail stores on Black Friday alone.
  • The most popular items that shoppers are looking for on Black Friday are electronics, video games, clothing and computers.
  • Believe it or not, Black Friday is not the busiest shopping day of the Christmas season.  This honor generally goes to the Saturday before Christmas, so apparently procrastinators still rule!
  • Retailers expect about 12.3% of their annual sales to occur on Black Friday.
  • 31.2% of Black Friday shoppers will arrive at stores to shop at 5 a.m. or earlier.

Black Friday sales, deals and promotions have gotten so popular in some places that as you read this, you can bet that at some stores there may already be folks camping out, wanting to be one of the first people in line in order to score great Black Friday deals.  Many folks are fans of online shopping, thus avoiding the crowds and the Black Friday insanity altogether while shopping from the comfort of home.  For many shoppers, however, the annual ritual of Black Friday shopping is an annual part of their Christmas season tradition.  To those brave souls out there who are unafraid to face the massive crowds, long lines and mild insanity of this fabulous day of deals, we say Happy Shopping!  Don’t forget to check out our own set of very special Black Friday specials--and to get one of these, you don’t even have to leave the house. 

Happy Thanksgiving and Happy Black Friday from your friends at Halloween Express!

Talking Turkey: Thanksgiving Facts You Probably Didn’t Know

  • November 18, 2013
  • Jenna Maxwell

Thanksgiving FactsWith Thanksgiving a little over a week away, here are some Thanksgiving Facts you probably didn't know:

  • You know that first Thanksgiving in 1621 with the Pilgrims and the Indians in Plymouth Colony?  It seems that it may not be the first Thanksgiving after all.  There are twelve different claims as to where the first Thanksgiving may have occurred, including two in Texas, one in Maine, two in Florida, one in Massachusetts and two more in Virginia. There is evidence that first real Thanksgiving in America occurred when Francisco Vasquez de Coronado and his crew held a Thanksgiving celebration in Palo Duro Canyon in Texas.
  • When President Jefferson got wind of the desire to make a federal Thanksgiving proclamation he called the idea, “the most ridiculous idea ever conceived.”
  • The Presidential Thanksgiving turkey pardon began officially in 1947, although rumor has it that Abraham Lincoln had pardoned many turkeys informally, beginning with his own son’s pet turkey. 
  • Franklin D. Roosevelt moved the Thanksgiving holiday to next to the last Thursday of the month of November in order to prolong the season for holiday shopping.  Believe it or not, this irritated a lot of Republicans and for a short time there were two Thanksgiving’s--November 30 was the Republican Thanksgiving and November 23 was known as the “Democrat Thanksgiving.”
  • The average Thanksgiving trip is 214 miles.  At Christmas time the average holiday trek is 275 miles. 
  • Americans eat 535 million pounds of turkey on Thanksgiving.
  • The Native Americans originally used cranberries as a treatment for arrow wounds or to dye clothes.  Now they are considered part of Thanksgiving feasting tradition!
  • Many states were hesitant to make Thanksgiving a federal holiday because some of them thought that the federal government was exercising too much control by declaring a national holiday.  The southern states in particular were reluctant to be a part of what they felt was a more New England tradition.
  • The pilgrims would likely not have survived without the help and solid advice of Squanto.  Squanto was able to speak English and had traveled back and forth across the ocean several times so he had invaluable experience that helped the pilgrims. 
  • Traditional Thanksgiving football games began with Yale vs. Princeton back in 1876.
  • The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade began in 1924 and is tied for the second oldest Thanksgiving Day parade.  Over 44 million people will watch this parade on television while 3 million will attend it in person.
  • In 1920, Gimbel’s started the oldest Thanksgiving parade, which is now known as the 6 abc Dunkin Donuts Thanksgiving Day parade.  This parade is considered to be the oldest still running Thanksgiving Day parade.
  • Approximately 38 million Americans will travel a minimum of fifty miles to be with family for Thanksgiving.  Over four million of these Americans used air travel.  Thanksgiving Day is actually considered the busiest travel day in America, ironically it is even busier than the day before Thanksgiving.
  • Thanksgiving is observed on the fourth Thursday of November and can occur as early as November 22nd or as late as November 28th.
  • The day after Thanksgiving has become known as Black Friday, one of the biggest shopping days of the year and the Christmas season.  It is nicknamed “Black Friday” because retailers hope that on this day their sales numbers will go out of the red and into the black, due to very heavy holiday shopping.  The Black Friday tradition has been around since the 1930’s.

Veterans Day: Honoring Those Who Have Served

  • November 10, 2013
  • Jenna Maxwell

Monday, November 11th is Veterans Day.  Perhaps you will have the day off from work or school and you will also likely notice that some businesses are closed.  Aside from being a nice extension to your weekend, what exactly is Veterans Day and what does this holiday commemorate?  Here are some interesting facts about Veterans Day that you may want to know!

  • Veterans Day does not have an apostrophe in it, even though this is a common misspelling.  In English language terms, Veterans Day does not belong to Veterans but rather is a day set aside to honor them, thus the correct spelling is Veterans not Veteran’s. 
  • Veterans Day is always officially observed on November the 11th, commemorating the moment when Germany signed the armistice, a treaty with the Allied Nations that would slow the war hostilities of WWII. The armistice was signed in the 11th month on the 11th day, during the 11th hour.  This year November 11th falls on a Monday.  If the 11th falls on another day of the week, often some businesses and schools will choose to close on the nearest Friday or Monday.
  • Veterans Day was first called Armistice Day and was originally used to honor only the veterans of WWI.
  • Veterans day is a federal and a state holiday.
  • Veterans Day is often confused with Memorial Day, but there are important differences.  Memorial Day is a holiday designed to remember those who died while in service of their country, sometimes from wounds sustained during battle.  Veterans Day is a day to honor all those honorable men and women who have served our country in the armed forces and is particularly designed to thank those that are still living and to acknowledge their service.
  • In June of 1954, the United States changed the name of this important holiday from Armistice Day to Veterans Day and also changed the meaning of the celebration to honor all men and women serving in the armed forces.
  • There are approximately 21.2 million living veterans!  Approximately 1.6 of these vets are women.
  • 400,000 members of the armed forces died during WWII. 
  • 71% of Veterans cast their vote on Election Day.  Compare that to the less than 60% of the general population. 
  • More living veterans served in Vietnam than in any other war.  There are 7.6 million living Vietnam era vets currently living in the United States.
  • The U.S. Postal Service is the largest employer of veterans.


Happy Veterans Day from your friends at Halloween Express! 

Pumpkins: The Aftermath

  • November 04, 2013
  • Jenna Maxwell

Halloween is over, at least in the official sense, anyway.  There is a possibility that many of you had Halloween parties over the weekend and we are all for that, of course.  If we had our way, however, the world would be dressed up in costume every single day because that’s just the way we think in these parts.  In any case, we hope you had  lots of Halloween fun, as that is the point and what Halloween is all about. 

For those of us that now will file Halloween 2013 away in our memory banks and move on--here’s a few tips on what to do with those obsolete pumpkins you may have lying around your house.

Once your pumpkin has been carved and sitting around for over 24 hours, it’s no longer safe to eat so do not be tempted to use it for any food creations.  There are however, a few ideas that don’t involve food or eating your pumpkin that will impart a little more longevity into your blessed gourdly creation.  If you have un-carved pumpkins, any of these suggestions will work for you.

  • Pumpkin Puree:  Most people buy pumpkin puree in cans at the grocery store and use this to make pies, pumpkin breads and other festive fall treats. Making pumpkin puree is not that hard or complicated, so why not give it a try?  Use only a previously un-carved pumpkin for this project.  Cut your pumpkin down the middle and then scoop out all the seeds and slimy guts.  Set the seeds aside for later.  Place your pumpkin, cut side down in a baking dish with about a cup of water and bake at 350 degrees for about 90 minutes or until the pumpkin is tender.  Scoop out the flesh and put it into a food processor and puree.  Wa-la!  Now you have fresh pumpkin puree that is all ready to use in your favorite pumpkin recipes.   This puree can be frozen for several months so if you want to use this for Thanksgiving pies, stash this now in a freezer-safe container.
  • Make a Pumpkin Planter:  This is a great idea for your carved pumpkin or an un-carved one will work as well. Buy some annual flowers from your local nursery and use your pumpkin as the planter!  You can use the “not carved” side to face the front if you don’t want a Jack o Lantern look to your planter.  The pumpkin will naturally compost and provide fertilizer to your plants.  If you are using an un-carved pumpkin, you are going to need to disembowel the pumpkin (meaning take out the seeds and slimy guts) before you can plant flowers in it.  These pumpkin planters can go straight into the ground, or (my suggestion) leave them on the porch for a few days first as a decoration and then plant them in the ground.  Hopefully your weather is not so cold that planting things is not practical.  If you haven’t had your first frost, you should be good to go.
  • Pumpkin Facial:  Now here’s a pumpkin-headed idea!  Pumpkins are loaded with zinc, along with vitamins A, C and E.  Pumpkin is healthy to eat of course, but it can also do wonders for your skin!  Create a facial mask with some pumpkin puree and you too can be pumpkin pretty!  Take 5 teaspoons of pumpkin puree; add three teaspoons of brown sugar (a natural exfoliant) and a small splash of milk.  Mix this all together and apply to your face in a circular motion, but keep it away from your eyes and eye area.  Leave your pumpkin mask on for twenty minutes; relax and enjoy your post-Halloween self-indulgence.  Rinse off the pumpkin mask with clear water when you are finished. 
  • Pumpkin Seeds:  Remember those pumpkin seeds I told you to save?  Now’s the time to make a delicious, classic (and healthy) snack from them.  First you must separate all the seeds from the guts of the pumpkin.  This is a slimy, messy task so get your kids to do it if at all possible. J  Rinse the seeds well and get rid of the slimy residue. Spread the seeds out in a single layer on a baking sheet greased with olive oil.  Stir the seeds around so they get coated with a little of the oil.  For a traditional pumpkin seed snack add salt and bake them in a 400-degree oven.  Pumpkin seeds cook at different rates depending on how many there are and how large they are, so watch them closely.  The cooking time can vary from about 10-20 minutes.  Enjoy!

Long live the pumpkin! May you get just a little more enjoyment out of yours.