Which is another way of saying what a headline last week, from the Los Angeles Times, summed up well: “Black Friday highlights the contrast between rich and poor.” As a spectacle, it may be celebrated by all, but it is participated in, increasingly, by a few. Black Friday stands, both temporally and culturally, in stark contrast to Thanksgiving, which is not a Hallmark holiday so much as a Williams-Sonoma one, and which involves, among other things, people who can afford heritage turkeys and vessels designed solely to pour gravy congratulating themselves on how wonderfully non-commercial the whole thing is. Their stomachs still full of bird and broccolini and bourbon-ginger-apple pie, they settle in to watch the news stories that come out of Black Friday—the stampedes, the stabbings—and gawk in amusement and amazement. “All that for a flat screen,” they say, drinking their wine and shaking their heads.

Which may help to explain why, last year, total sales for Black Friday were down 14 percent from what they had been two years earlier. And it may help to explain, too, why retailers have gone out of their way to take the “day” out of “Black Friday”—and the smarmy spectacle along with it…

That’s not to say that Black Friday, in the sense of deals-marking-the-start-of-the-holiday-season, is dying. It’s actually to say the opposite: that Black Friday has been so thoroughly absorbed into the American consciousness that it has spread to encompass multiple days—and, for that matter, multiple months. A holiday is defined by its negative space; take the “day” out of it, and you’re left with simply a season. “It used to be called Black Friday, then it became Thursday, now it’s a week long,” Wal-Mart’s chief U.S. merchant, Duncan Mac Naughton, told the Wall Street Journal. “Maybe we should just call it November.”