Facts to get you through the coming holiday season

By ARIELLA SHUA | November 9, 2017

Fir Christmas Christmas Decorations Christmas Tree

Of course, in anticipation of the upcoming Thanksgiving Break, Hopkins has also decided to make the beginning of November one of the most stressful times of the year by piling on the assignments and meetings.

All of it is, I’m sure, meant to make the week-long vacation that much more meaningful. But until the much-coveted break actually begins, there are plenty of things to procrastinate over. Here are the questions and answers, helpfully provided by the internet, that I found more pressing than the questions my professors had assigned this week:

When does holiday season officially begin?

There’s no official starting date for the holiday season, though the public generally thinks of it as beginning in late November, usually after Thanksgiving. Retail stores, on the other hand, have a different idea, with many beginning their seasonal sales right after Halloween or even earlier. The act of pushing back the holiday season to earlier dates each year occurs with such impact that it earned a nickname: the Christmas creep.

Why is Election Day on a Tuesday in November?

Starting in 1792, each state’s presidential election could take place during any of the 34 days before the first Wednesday of December, which was the day that the Electoral College would be meeting. This time period, which mostly overlapped with November, was chosen because most Americans worked in the agriculture, and November occurred after the fall harvest was over but before the harsh winter weather truly began.

In 1845, however, a new law was instituted to mandate that all elections be held on the Tuesday after the first Monday of November. Previous elections had possibly been swayed by late voters, who knew the results of earlier states’ elections and voted accordingly. To prevent any potential influence in the election outcomes, all states began to vote on the same day.

But why specifically a Tuesday? Many voters needed to travel for over a day in order to vote. As a primarily Christian nation, beginning the travel process on a Sunday was not an option, so Tuesday was selected.

When did Black Friday become a holiday?

It isn’t a holiday, at least not officially. Thanksgiving became a national holiday in 1864, but Black Friday was not attached until nearly a century later. In 1950s Philadelphia, the Army and Navy would play an annual football game on the Saturday after Thanksgiving.

Tourists descended on the city to watch and shop on the Friday after Thanksgiving, as the city heavily promoted the game with sales and discounts. Police began referring to the weekend as “Black Friday” in the 1960s because they had to deal with the raucous crowds.

The day earned its status as an unofficial holiday beginning in the 1950s, as businesses began adding the Friday after Thanksgiving as a paid holiday for employees. Prior to this shift, employees would call in sick on Friday and have the day off. Rather than fight a losing battle, businesses began to give their employees a four-day weekend, elevating Black Friday to its near holiday-like status.

Why was the Pumpkin Spice Latte invented?

Love it or hate it, it is hard to deny the iconic status of this drink. Starbucks created the PSL as an expansion to their already popular seasonal drinks line in 2003. Pumpkin was selected because there were few other products that were pumpkin-flavored at the time.

Starbucks eventually selected a recipe that included no actual pumpkin, although they have since added pumpkin puree beginning in 2015. The Pumpkin Spice Latte quickly became the most popular seasonal beverage that the chain had ever offered. And yes, Starbucks is responsible for the fact that pumpkin spice flavoring routinely takes over the market every year in a wide array of categories.

What is “Have a Party With Your Bear Day”?

Exactly what it sounds like. Get ready to celebrate this holiday on November 16, because if there is any reason for the holiday season to have already (possibly) started, this is it.

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