How Black Friday Got Its Name and Where the Bargain Hunting Deals Came From
It happens every year, for better or worse. How did the post-Thanksgiving tradition begin?
Black Friday has become a strange annual tradition involving long lines, pushing, shoving and other nutty behavior for one day of bargains and deals — but how did it come to be?
The name Black Friday has its roots in a 19th century financial crisis, the panic of 1869.
In September of that year, two financiers conspired to corner the gold market. But officials in President Ulysses S. Grant's administration caught wind of the scheme, and sold millions of dollars' worth of gold to break the corner, which caused a panic in financial markets. The price of gold dropped, and as a result, so did the stock market, which plummeted by 20%.
It bankrupted thousands of people and effectively stopped foreign trade. It all happened on a Friday, hence the name, “Black Friday.”
In January of 1919, violent labor riots in Glasgow, Scotland, also got the name Black Friday as well.
Most recently, in the late 1950s and early 1960s, the Black Friday name was given by police in Philadelphia, to describe the time between Thanksgiving Thursday and the following Saturday.
The city would host the annual Army-Navy football game that weekend after the holiday and marked a busy post-Thanksgiving workload, which officers later nicknamed “Black Friday.”
Retailers in the city tried to change the name to "Big Friday," but the name simply didn't stick.
It wasn't until the 1980s that stores around the country figured out that they could make "Black Friday" a selling point, but they may have created a monster in recent years with doorbuster deals at odd hours on the day after Thanksgiving.
Black Friday may conjure images of fights and frantic shopping due to offerings of insane discounts on electronic items, furniture, clothing and other must-have items of the holiday season.
With the dawn of online shopping, Black Friday has lost some of its intensity to Cyber Monday, but that won't keep plenty of Americans from waking up in the early hours of Friday morning on a quest for that hard-to-get toy or unbelievable deal.
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