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Black Friday: origin, meaning, where the name comes from and why it is called ‘Black Friday’

Black Friday emerged to inaugurate the Christmas shopping season in the US and we took a look at its hotly debated origins.

Compradores en el Black Friday británico. El viernes negro es ya un evento mundial

Black Friday, also known as Black Friday, is a popular shopping holiday in the United States that marks the beginning of the Christmas shopping season. It falls on the day after Thanksgiving, which is celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November. This year, Black Friday will take place on November 24th, and it is known for its huge discounts offered by shops and big brands.

Origin of Black Friday

The term “Black Friday” was first used in New York 145 years ago and had nothing to do with Christmas shopping.

Jay Gould and Jim Fisk, two investors who were president and vice president of the Erie Railroad, were known as two of Wall Street’s most ruthless financial masterminds. On Friday, September 24, 1869, their plot to rig the gold market came to a head. For months, Gould and Fisk had been driving up the price of gold by buying up large reserves of the precious metal. However, when President Ulysses Grant caught wind of the scam, he flooded the market with gold, causing a colossal stock market crash. According to the BBC, the term was first coined by Gould and Fisk.

Then, on December 2, 1905, the Macy’s store organized a Santa Claus parade that, for many, marked the origin of its current concept, a day that started the shopping season before Christmas.

There are other theories about the origin of the term “Black Friday.”

One theory suggests that it originated in the 1950s when retailers marked losses in red and profits in black, and the day after Thanksgiving was the day when they started making profits for the year. Another theory indicates that the term was coined by the Philadelphia police force in 1961 to refer to the chaos caused by shopping on the city streets. Finally, there is another tradition that states that the term was born because after the day of losses on Thanksgiving Day, the Christmas shopping season arrived, and the beginning of profits and “black numbers”.

History of Black Friday as we know it

The event known as Black Friday, which takes place on the Friday after Thanksgiving, is believed to have originated in Philadelphia during the 1950s or 60s. Police officers coined the term due to the Army-Navy football game, traditionally played on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, causing an influx of shoppers and tourists to the city. This led to police officers who had to work on the day after Thanksgiving to dread the event, with its traffic jams, overcrowding of sidewalks and retail stores, and increased shoplifting.

The term “Black Friday” was initially used by sales personnel who dreaded the day because of its chaotic staff-to-shopper ratio. It was customary to call in sick the day after Thanksgiving to extend the holiday. The term gradually became popular nationwide to refer to the post-Thanksgiving, pre-Christmas shopping frenzy in the 1980s.

There were efforts made by retailers to convert the name of the day into something more positive, and for a while, they pushed “Big Friday” in an attempt to garner more favorable public opinion of the event, but it never caught on. Eventually, though, one positive connotation did stick, as more commonly now, we link the shopping bonanza with the “red to black” narrative, which connotes the surge in cash flow seen by retailers on this day.