Black Friday Has a Surprising History

By Sofia Nelson


The early morning bustling of people on Black Friday has become an essential part of many peoples’ Thanksgiving traditions.

Since 2006, there has been a death and injury count kept. Sadly, the statistics, according to Black Friday Death Count, show that there have been 12 deaths and 117 injuries total. Not only are these present statistics depressing, but it also has a surprisingly dark and confusing history. Everything you think you know about Black Friday, think again.

The first time the term “Black Friday” was mentioned, it was connected to two Wall Street financiers, Jay Gould and Jim Fisk, who caused the U.S. Gold Market crash on Sept. 24, 1869. The men tried buying out all the gold, propelling the prices up, then hopefully making large profits. This sent every investor and farmer into bankruptcy.

It was also found that when stores operated at a loss from previous sales then they are in the “red,” but after Thanksgiving, profits would go up because of shoppers spending a boatload of money on discounted items. Thus turning sales to “black,” hence “Black Friday.”

However, this is the inaccurate version of this holiday’s history.

One conspiracy has a more gloomy outlook. It is said that in the 1800s African American slaves were sold at a discounted price the day after Thanksgiving. But, this too, is a myth.

The truth, in fact, is not so dark.

In Philadelphia, cops in the 1950s used the term to describe the havoc that was wreaked the day after Thanksgiving. People storm the city to make it to the big Army-Navy football game held on that Saturday every year.

The police officers not only have to work that weekend, but they have to take extra long shifts because of the traffic and hoards of people. This would also give way to shoplifters who knew the police would be busy with everything else. This just added to the load of paperwork they already had from all the chaos.

“Black Friday” now had a negative connotation that Philadeplia tried fixing by changing the name to “Big Friday.” The term, however, did not catch on to most of the country. Instead, retailers just took the holiday and turned it positive by using the “red to black” story previously mentioned.

This new, reinvented Black Friday gave rise to other retail holidays such as Cyber Monday.

Since the beginning, the amount of people taking part in Black Friday has only risen. In 2018, an estimated 135.8 million planned to go shopping Thanksgiving weekend.

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