The True Meaning of Black Friday

Jordan Walker, Reporter

Americans today are obsessed with Black Friday, people everywhere will do crazy things just to get the best deal just in time for the holiday season. Deal obsessed consumers however, are not the topic of this article. This article is about where and how this shopping frenzy, lined up outside a Target for an hour, getting up at 4 a.m. holiday, came to be.

Originally the term “Black Friday” came from a crash in the gold market. According to, on September 24, 1869, two men bought as much gold as they could, which forced the price to rise immensely and on that Friday the stock market turned into a free-for-all, leaving many people bankrupt. That is the origin of the term, but it has almost nothing to do with the holiday.

There are a few stories that go with the origin of Black Friday, elaborated on by One of them that is often thought to be the true origin is actually very inaccurate. The story goes…one year after stores spent the whole year in red (loss) they would go into the black (profit) the day after Thanksgiving. This part of the story is not necessarily true, but people shopping for the lowest deals before holidays is. This story seemed pretty logical, but as I stated before it is not true. The true origin of Black Friday is not what you might think.

After 1869, the term Black Friday was used again in Philadelphia in the 50’s. The term still represented the day after Thanksgiving. This Black Friday had very little to do with the best deals of the year, this Black Friday was a term used by police for the day before Army-Navy football game. On the day after Thanksgiving every year, Philadelphians would run wild getting all their shopping done before the big game. Some would even take advantage of how thinly spread the police force was and steal from retailers getting an even better deal.

So if that is the true origin, it explains the shopper hysteria but it doesn’t explain the big deals and how stores started using it to their advantage. According to, by 1961 Black Friday had caught on in Philadelphia but marketers tried to change to “Big Friday” to remove the negative connotations. That obviously never caught and by the 80’s marketers accepted Black Friday and changed it for better. The whole holiday is a win-win situation, the marketer gets a spike in profit, and we the consumer get the best deals, as long as you get that flat screen you wanted!