Black Fridays & Blue Laws

There’s been quite a bit of news coverage of the way Black Friday has started to bleed over into Thanksgiving Day. A number of retailers were open well before midnight on Thursday. There’s been criticism of consumerism, talk of the bad economy and even some employees who signed a petition asking that the business they work for be closed on Thanksgiving. Could closing stores on Thanksgiving become a widely enforced blue law?

Once upon a time, you couldn’t buy alcohol in most of the south because of blue laws. (Now I’m able to buy a bottle of wine on Sunday in NC–so long as it’s after noon.) States below the Mason Dixon Line are generally those pointed to as having the most blue laws even though they originated in Connecticut.

A General History of Connecticut by Samuel A. Peters was published in London in 1781 outlining some of the more, shall we say stringent, of the blue laws in that state. A burglary committed on Sunday, for example, got the perpetrator the usual punishment in addition to having one of his ears cut off. The second burglary on Sunday lost him his second ear and the third earned the death penalty (an early three strikes law? or was it just the lack of ears at that point?).

There were fines for failing to attend church, playing cards or gambling; time in the stocks for cursing; and patrons of inns were limited to half a pint of wine. Blue laws still being enforced include no alcohol sales on Sunday, no hunting on Sunday and yes, in some states, no stores (including grocerystores) open on Thanksgiving or Christmas.

Q4U- So what do you say? Should we require stores to close for one of our most treasured holidays? Or is it just a bunch of Puritan rubbish?

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