We are not living in a material world

On the day after Thanksgiving – commonly known as Black Friday – consumers line up to take part in mind-blowing sales that many stores put into effect to cash in on the madness.

Many Americans find themselves going shopping on this day, seeking a particular item or random good deals, while others dare to venture out to see what the hype is with Black Friday. But those who refuse to fall victim to the offers are fighting against the idea of mindless shopping and grabbing up various items in a buying frenzy.

The result is Buy Nothing Day, which began as a small movement in the early ’90s and grew to an international celebration. In North America, Buy Nothing Day happens on Black Friday in an attempt to combat the widespread spending that occurs. In all other parts of the world, Buy Nothing Day happens on the Saturday after Thanksgiving.

One faction supporting the event is Rhode Island’s Green Party, which encourages people “to think about whether the frenzy of consumption actually helps people live better lives or take better care of their community.”

Last year in San Francisco, flyers were handed out at local malls telling people that “the holidays are not about spending money. Simplify.” In Tokyo, shoppers were encouraged to “stop buying and start living.”

As many people who take place in demonstrations and movements on this day recognize, Buy Nothing Day is not going to deter shoppers from coming out in droves to grab some goodies. However, they are hoping to get people to think about their spending habits and ask themselves why they’re going gaga over sales and discounts.

Some people who participate in this post-Thanksgiving, pre-Christmas blitz of shopping may not see anything wrong with it. They are probably just trying to save money and get some gifts for family and friends. Through their good intentions, they become caught up in the dreaded consumerism, the exact opposite of what the holidays are supposed to be about.

After all, the things we as a culture go crazy over are simply that – things. Does anyone still have a Tickle Me Elmo? How about the Furby you just had to have? Probably not. They ended up where many people’s unwanted goods go – at a Goodwill store.

Fads come and go. But the things that the holidays are really about – charity, love and compassion – never fade.