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The history of Black Friday

Aloe Suarez, Reporter

Black Friday is known for its kooky product deals, rampaging customers, and protracted lines— all within the day after Thanksgiving or even that same evening.

This social holiday has a more in-depth and rather unusual origin story.

There is speculation about the founding name of the holiday— from the market crash of 1869 caused by greedy, gold buyers Jay Gould and Jim Fisk, to the belief that African slaves were sold by Southern plantation owners at discounted prices the day after Thanksgiving. 

However, the real tale all started in Pennsylvania in the 1950s, and it’s all because of college football.

One of the most notorious college football rivalries is between the Army Black Knights and the Navy Midshipmen. Their anticipated showdown was always the day after Thanksgiving in the place known as the City of Brotherly Love, Philadelphia.

The Philadelphia Police Department despised this day and dubbed the day “Black Friday” for the chaotic manner the masses of people rushed in with massive traffic jams and ridiculous shopping sprees.

According to the Indiana University’s Department of Linguistics, a printed ad for Apfelbaum Stamps is the first to use the term. 

In the 1966 issue of “The American Philatelist,” a stamp collectors catalog, the ad read: “‘Black Friday’ officially opens the Christmas shopping season in center city, and it usually brings massive traffic jams and over-crowded sidewalks as the downtown stores are mobbed from opening to closing.”

But retailers found it hard to sell their merchandise under a depressing title such as Black Friday and tried marketing “Big” Friday instead. The hope was to do away with the negative and unfavorable attitude associated with it.

As everyone knows, it didn’t keep, and the infamous name of Black Friday remained to spread to all states and even countries around the world. 

Black Friday has also paved the way for two other shopping holidays: Small Business Saturday and Sunday and Cyber Monday.

Whatever which way people may care to look at it, stay safe this holiday season.


For more information or news tips, or if you see an error in this story or have any compliments or concerns, contact [email protected].

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