Today, a number of retail chains are trying to have Christmas in July by offering massive sales. The media has labeled this a second Black Friday, referring to the Friday after Thanksgiving when stores traditionally offer deep discounts.
When you stop to think about it, the use of black to describe a massive shopping day contradicts the history of other “black” days. In fact, Black Friday originally refered to Sept 24, 1869, when the collapse of a gold speculation plan took the stock market down. Black Monday is known as “the most notorious day in financial history (Oct 19, 1987.)” Yes, there is also a Black Tuesday, and a Black Thursday. None of these are exactly occasions for top hats, garter belts, or mimosas.
So where did the lucrative connotation of Black Friday come from? Like so many word conundrums, there isn’t a definitive answer. Two possibilities exist:
In Philadelphia, where the sales originated, police deemed the retail event Black Friday because the amount of traffic was a black spot on their holiday weekend. The more popular explanation has to do with the colors of ink accountants traditionally used for noting profit and loss. A company “in the red” is recording loss, red ink being the traditional color for noting negative finances. “In the black” means just the opposite; thus the notion that Black Friday will force those bookkeepers to put away the red ink, and get out the black.
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