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No matter which day you choose to shop, be sure that you give as much as your receive to stay in the holiday spirit./Bob Mical (Flickr)

Each year, we anticipate the start of another holiday season. Fall begins turning into winter, and our sights get set on holiday shopping, travel planning and more. And what truly kicks the season off are some important national holidays: Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday and Giving Tuesday.

But how did each of these holidays come to be?

Black Friday

According to CNN, “Black Friday has become as synonymous with Thanksgiving as pumpkin pie.” This holiday is always the day after Thanksgiving, and people line up early in the morning to score the best deals from big box stores across the country.

It wasn’t always this way. Black Friday’s name is actually rooted in Philadelphia, where shoppers from the suburbs would make their way into the city in the days after Thanksgiving in the 1950s, a CNN report said. The city promoted big sales and decorations, all in anticipation of the Army/Navy football game on Saturday.

For travelers, this is a great day to check out deals on major items like luggage, camping gear and other big-ticket items.

Small Business Saturday

Arguably the most important holiday for our local economies in the lineup of post-Thanksgiving shopping days is Small Business Saturday. This year, the holiday celebrates its 10th anniversary.

Backed by American Express, this national movement supports small businesses. “You’re shopping small every time you pick up a coffee at the corner shop, grab lunch at a local spot, or buy a new bag online from your neighborhood boutique,” the website says. However, on this national holiday, small businesses across the nation band together with their communities to encourage people to “shop small.”

Is your community on board? Make sure to sign up to be a neighborhood champion at

Check to see if your local travel agency is hosting any Small Business Saturday discounts or promotions.

Cyber Monday

Cyber Monday was created in 2005, when Ellen Davis, senior vice president of research and strategic initiatives for the National Retail Federation, coined the term. It’s the biggest e-commerce sales day of the year, with Americans spending more than $3 billion online last year.

According to Reader’s Digest, “For several years in a row, the NRF had noticed a recurring spike in online revenue and traffic on the Monday following Thanksgiving. They believed it was because people were making purchases from their computers at work, where the Internet connections were faster and their kids couldn’t get a sneak peek at their gifts.”

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OkiGator (Flickr)

For travel lovers, this is a great day to find online discounts from resorts, tourist bureaus and other places across the Mid-Atlantic. Skiers and snowboarders will score some great deals, too, if they know where to look.

Giving Tuesday

After a few days straight of shopping, it’s important to remember the reason for the season. Giving Tuesday has grown in recent years into the biggest giving movement in the world, allowing users to support the causes they believe in and the communities they live in.

You’ll find many ways to give back on Giving Tuesday in our Charitable Giving insert in this month’s edition of Recreation News.

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