Today Black Friday is a day of long lines, shopping chaos, and getting the best deals, all while working off that big Thanksgiving feast. Many think the term "Black Friday" stems from the financial phrase of "being in the black" or "making a profit," since generally, Thanksgiving is the first day of the year where retail companies make a profit. But Black Friday wasn't always about getting the best deal on a new TV or getting the hottest new Christmas toys, it was a bit darker than that.
On September 24, 1869, the premium of gold plummeted within minutes, causing a severe financial crisis for the United States because two men, Jay Gould and James Fisk attempted to buy all of the nation's gold hoping to cause it's value to go up in the stocks and sell it at an extremely high profit, but when their plan was revealed, the stock market crashed resulting in major bankruptcies. September 24, 1869, was the first time the term Black Friday was used, but this event wasn't the event that caused the shopping tradition.
Many people may have heard that "Black Friday" refers to the day after Thanksgiving during the slave trade that this was a day when people sold all their slaves at a discount, but this has been debunked, instead the term Black Friday is much more recent and not nearly as dark.
But instead Black Friday stems from Philadelphia and their police force. During the 1950's, on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, there was the popular Army-Navy football game, which drove in a lot more traffic from the suburbs and a lot more people looking to get a head start on their holiday shopping. Because of the crowds and chaos of all the holiday shoppers, the Philly police offers were unable to take the Friday after Thanksgiving off in order to help assist with the increase in traffic, shoplifting, and general chaos of the influx of people into the city. The Philadelphia police force named the day as "Black Friday" in attempts to deter people from joining in the holiday shopping and savings the day after Thanksgiving because the increase in traffic and crime on Black Friday was difficult to manage. But instead retailers took the name on and began altering the negative connotation into what it is today, a day for shopping and getting the best deals on products.
As you celebrate, or stay in and sleep, this Black Friday, it's important to take note of what it once was and what it has become.