Black Friday has been around for over a century, but the  consumer “holiday” is getting a little too big for its britches. With many stores opening at 6:00 pm on Thanksgiving this year and one national chain, K-mart, even opening at 5:00 a.m., it’s clear that the AMAZING television deals and computer discounts are eating away at Thanksgiving. How, you may be asking yourself, did Black Friday evolve to this??

The day after Thanksgiving traditionally marks the beginning of the Christmas shopping season, the busiest and most lucrative shopping season in the year. Retailers have been encouraging shoppers to hit the streets on Friday since the late 1800’s. However, the name  didn’t originated until 1960s when Philadelphia policemen came up (so the story goes) with the bleak name in order to deter people form coming into the city to shop.  Police were fed up with the hugh traffic jams and crowded city sidewalks.

Well, nearly five decades later and we now know it takes more than a depressing name to discourage determined shoppers. This year, Black Friday weekend sales are projected at an impressive $82 billion due to some 135 million people hitting the stores.

That’s all well and good. The problem is, Black Friday is slowly gobbling up Thanksgiving.

For the past few decades, a bright-and-early 6:00 a.m. store opening was the norm for retailers across the nation. But in the past ten years, stores started inching their open time to 4:00 or 5:00 a.m. Then, in 2011, retailers made shopping history by opening their doors at midnight on Friday. Unfortunately, that was simply not good enough: the following year, major retailers, such as Walmart, opened their doors at 8:00.

Now, in 2013, we’re looking at a 6:00 pm start for stores such as Target, Macy’s, Sears, and Walmart. If I’m not mistaken, that falls directly during the time when most people across the nation would otherwise be sitting down to celebrate one of the best meals and most sacred American traditions of the entire year.

At this point, I don’t think we need to point out the irony of rushing to the nearest outlet mall immediately following a meal where we all give thanks for the many things we have in our lives–the irony there pretty much goes without saying. However, we should all stop and look at how rapidly Black Friday is encroaching on Thanksgiving. Black Friday gained six hours in two years. At this rate, Thanksgiving will be the biggest shopping day of the season with a few more years.

Not everyone is happy about this, and some consumers are making a stand against the newly-dubbed “Black Thursday” by taking the pledge to not shop on Thanksgiving. Others are staying home in fear for their bodily safety, as four people have died and hundreds more injured over the past ten years in stampedes for discounted items and disputes.

Either way, it seems like Black Friday is here to stay. Should something be done to protect Thanksgiving? Or should we just let the shoppers shop?