Let's give thanks we don't yet have Thanksgiving

TODAY IS Thanksgiving Day in the United States. The Pilgrim Fathers were so grateful that their first harvest had been safely gathered they decided to have a holiday in which everyone could give thanks to God by getting into their cars and sitting in a traffic jam.

Given current trends it is quite likely that Thanksgiving Day will be celebrated in this country within the next 20 years. It falls conveniently mid-way between Hallowe'en and Christmas and would fill a yawning gap in the shops' promotional timetable that currently has Christmas stretching right back to early autumn.

American consumerism has always been one step ahead. Instead of spending eight weeks gearing their customers up for buying one turkey, they slot in an extra festival at the end of November so everyone has to buy another one four weeks beforehand. It cannot be long before British shops try this scam on us.

Ten years ago Hallowe'en was not a commercial event in this country until "trick or treating" was imported from the United States. If there is a week in the calendar where there is nothing obvious to flog us, the shops will make something up. Father's Day was invented by an American greetings card company and there was actually a genuine attempt by the same people to launch a "Secretary's Day", when employers could express their thanks to their overworked assistants. This one never really took off, presumably because the bosses kept sending their secretaries out to buy the cards they were going to give them. Since most of the significant days in our calendar were originally Christian festivals it is no wonder that these are the dates that the new religion of consumerism has seized for itself. The resurrection of Christ is celebrated by buying lots and lots of over-packaged chocolate eggs, obviously. The martyrdom of St Valentine is remembered by the doubling of flower prices. The church has no right to complain about the way their holy days have been hijacked by the new religion of shopping, because latching on to the festivals of existing religions was exactly how Christianity got itself established. "Yuletide is just becoming too Christian these days," said the pagans, bemoaning the way the winter sacrifice at Stonehenge was being spoilt by a class of five-year-olds singing Little Donkey.

So just as the winter solstice gave way to a celebration of the birth of Christ, the new religion of shopping has made the whole of December its holy month. The modern cathedrals of the Bluewater Shopping Centre and Lakeside Thurrock are packed with worshippers. "Lo! I bring news of great joy to all mankind. Dixons are doing Pokemon Blue Nintendos at pounds 24.99." The spending frenzy builds to a fervent climax by Christmas Eve as panic sets in because for one day of the year the shops are going to close. But fear not, sales start 9am Boxing Day - and then millions of people go shopping all over again. The real shopping fundamentalists get into their sleeping bags and camp outside the department stores so they can be first to hear the joyful ringing of the tills. They sleep alongside all the people who have been bankrupted by the whole crazy money-go-round.

And that is the problem with the rampant consumerism which has become the hollow substitute for any spiritual depth in our lives. Just like the church before it, consumerism promises a happiness that it cannot deliver. Today in the holy land of consumerism, everyone will over indulge on roast turkey and pumpkin pie. We should just be grateful that for the time being we are spared that one burden on our over-stretched family budgets. So let's give thanks that we don't have Thanksgiving. Great idea, say the shops, we could have a special day when we do this. How about the last Thursday in November - shops are open to midnight.

Arts and Entertainment
Legendary charm: Clive Owen and Keira Knightley in 2004’s ‘King Arthur’
FilmGuy Ritchie is the latest filmmaker to tackle the legend
Arts and Entertainment
Corporate affair: The sitcom has become a satire of corporate culture in general

TV review

Broadcasting House was preparing for a visit from Prince Charles spoiler alert
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
tvReview: There are some impressive performances by Claire Skinner and Lorraine Ashbourne in Inside No. 9, Nana's Party spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
Glastonbury's pyramid stage

Glastonbury Michael Eavis reveals final headline act 'most likely' British pair

Arts and Entertainment
Ewan McGregor looks set to play Lumiere in the Beauty and the Beast live action remake

Film Ewan McGregor joins star-studded Beauty and the Beast cast as Lumiere

Arts and Entertainment
Charlie feels the lack of food on The Island with Bear Grylls

TV

The Island with Bear Grylls under fire after male contestants kill and eat rare crocodile
Arts and Entertainment
Aaron Taylor-Johnson as Quicksilver and Elizabeth Olsen as Scarlet Witch, in a scene from Avengers: Age Of Ultron
filmReview: A great cast with truly spectacular special effects - but is Ultron a worthy adversaries for our superheroes? spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Ince performing in 2006
comedy
Arts and Entertainment
Beth (played by Jo Joyner) in BBC1's Ordinary Lies
tvReview: There’s bound to be a second series, but it needs to be braver spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry, the presenters of The Great Comic Relief Bake Off 2015

TV
Arts and Entertainment
A still from Harold Ramis' original Groundhog Day film, released in 1993

Theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Christopher Eccleston (centre) plays an ex-policeman in this cliché-riddled thriller

TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Headey looks very serious as Cersei Lannister in Game of Thrones

TV This TV review contains spoilers
Arts and Entertainment

film
Arts and Entertainment
Wiz Khalifa performs on stage during day one of the Wireless Festival at Perry Park in Birmingham

music
Arts and Entertainment
Festival-goers soak up the atmosphere at Glastonbury

music

Arts and Entertainment
Star Wars creator George Lucas

film

Arts and Entertainment

music

Arts and Entertainment
A shot from the forthcoming Fast and Furious 7

film

Arts and Entertainment
The new-look Top of the Pops could see Fearne Cotton returns as a host alongside Dermot O'Leary

TV

Arts and Entertainment
The leader of the Church of Scientology David Miscavige

TV

Arts and Entertainment
No half measures: ‘The Secret Life of the Pub’

Grace Dent on TV The Secret Life of the Pub is sexist, ageist and a breath of fresh air

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

    Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

    How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
    Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

    Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

    Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
    Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

    Aviation history is littered with grand failures

    But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
    Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

    Fortress Europe?

    Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
    Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

    Never mind what you're wearing

    It's what you're reclining on that matters
    General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

    Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

    The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
    Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

    Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

    Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
    Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

    Marginal Streets project documents voters

    Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
    Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

    The real-life kingdom of Westeros

    Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
    How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

    How to survive a Twitter mauling

    Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
    Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

    At dawn, the young remember the young

    A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
    Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

    Follow the money as never before

    Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
    Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

    Samuel West interview

    The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
    General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

    Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

    Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
    Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

    Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

    The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence