Funny: Why Do We Call It Black Friday?

The term was originally used to label Fridays when historic calamities occurred, such as the market crashes of 1869 and 1873. In some countries it still is. How, in America, “Black Friday” became to refer to a big shopping day after Thanksgiving makes me chuckle.

So, now, the story of:

First, in America, the memory of the two preceding Black Fridays was wiped away by “Black Tuesday”, which was the peak day of the great Stock Market Crash of 1929 which heralded the beginning of the Great Depression, a terrible time lasting a whole decade. Interestingly, the day most remembered in Europe for this event is not the peak day but the first day the stocks crashed, a Thursday in the U.S. However, because of the different time zones, Europe was already in the wee hours of Friday at that time. Therefore, in Europe, it is still “Black Friday” which stands for the start of the Great Depression.

With “Black Friday” having been pushed to the recesses of American memory by “Black Tuesday”, the term “Black Friday” began resurfacing when police and city administrations began to lament their troubles with the crowds and traffic congestion at the start of the Christmas shopping season. Once the term spread, merchants – ever eager to up sales through happy images – began rebranding “Black Friday” as being derived from the day when their balance sheets turn from red to black. The earliest known publication of this fib seems to have appeared in the Philadelphia Inquirer for November 28, 1981. It is now well established in the American consciousness, for example here.

Isn’t it funny how CEOs, marketing folks, and their eager friends in the mass media – which is to say, people who are paid to sell us something – shape our language and historic recollection nowadays? Clearly, anything is true when it has been trumpeted often enough. At least, in this case, the issue is mild enough to amuse me. The story is different when it concerns serious issues like electronic voting machines which eliminate a paper trail of ballots and thereby make manipulation of vote counts untraceable. For what other purpose would such machines have been invented and installed all over our country? And, once in place, won’t those who control them take advantage?

But I digress…


As always, your comments are welcome.


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