Why Black Friday but not “Red Friday” or “White Friday”?

Black Friday was originally born not for the golden shopping day, but due to the circumstances and creativity of people, the term has existed over the decades.

In the bustling atmosphere to welcome the upcoming Black Friday 2019, a series of retailers in the US and many other countries have launched early promotion packages to attract customers.

It is estimated that million of people will shop online or buy in stores only on Black Friday. Meanwhile, The larger number of people are expected to shop during the holiday weekends.

Black Friday is right after Thanksgiving. With the great discount, this is an once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for retailers to earn high profits, while customers can buy their favorite bargains. So, why does this day bring such a dark (black) color? Why did Americans not choose white or red to get lucky?

The term “Black Friday” was not originally used for golden shopping days, but to refer to the collapse of the US stock market in the 19th century.

It is said that the first Black Friday was used on Friday, September 24, 1869. It started when Jay Gould and James Fisk colluded to accumulate the most gold on the market at the time in order to resell at the highest possible price to make a profit.

The plot to manipulate the gold market was finally exposed. However, the incident has caused unpredictable consequences. That day, the price of gold on the New York Gold Exchange amounted to 162 USD/ounce.

The collapse of the gold market led to a 20% drop in the stock market, while the falling of commodity prices caused farmers to lose up to 50% of the value of barley and corn. The rapid and massive loss of assets led investors to call it “Black Friday”.

That was the birth of the term “Black Friday”. However, the day after Thanksgiving called Black Friday is a further story. According to the Oxford English Dictionary (OED), the use of Black Friday with the present meaning dates back to at least the early 1960s.

In 1939, during the Great Depression, Thanksgiving accidentally fell in the 5th week of November. Retailers at that time warned that they would go bankrupt because the Thanksgiving holiday was too short.

And so they petitioned Franklin D. Roosevelt to turn Thanksgiving on the fourth Thursday of November. After much controversy and bills by Congress, Roosevelt finally signed into law adopting the petition.

When people realized the importance of a long vacation, they started shopping more on the day after Thanksgiving. The day after Thanksgiving was then considered the unofficial start of the Christmas shopping season, so the shopping needs increased rapidly.

When the demand of Thanksgiving shopping increased to an uncontrollable level, Black Friday was brought out to talk about this situation. However, it was not until 1966 that the term Black Friday became popular when it appeared in magazines and newspapers. That’s when a story about shopping is published in an ad on The American Philatelist.

In the article, the Philadelphia Police Department used the term “Black Friday” to describe traffic congestion in the area of shopping malls after Thanksgiving. At that time, hundreds of thousands of Americans crowded on the streets and sidewalks to go shopping.

By the late 1980s, retailers were trying to explain the term “Black Friday” in a more positive way. They began using the phrase “red to black” to refer to the shops that do business from “unprofitable to profitable”.

In English, the term “in the black” refers to a business that is profitable. In contrast, “in the red” is to show the state of business failure.

Therefore, without “Red Friday” or “White Friday”, Black Friday – from a dark day that is turned into a bright day and has become the lucky occasion that everyone has been waiting for.

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