3 Black Friday Origins: The Term Was Not Coined From Black Slavery

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3 Black Friday Origins: Is the Term Really Coined From Black Slavery?

A dark Black Friday origin story that has something to do with slavery is apparently behind the merry, yet chaotic, shopping spree event. But is there any truth to it?

Every last Friday of November, or the day after Thanksgiving, shoppers flock to the stores of retailers to mark the start of the Christmas shopping season while getting massive discounts. Yet a dark tale seems to shroud the day of the shopping bonanza.


There are claims that the trade of Black slavery by slave owners and slave traders is the history behind Black Friday. Allegedly, Black slaves are sold on the day after Thanksgiving to help plantation owners in preparation for the Winter season. However, there is no truth behind this unbacked theory.

In fact, the term was coined in as early as 1951, which is almost a century after the abolishment of slavery in the U.S. With that, the Black Friday origin of Black slavery trade is nothing but a false statement.


In 1951, the term Black Friday allegedly came from a disease that was only next to the bubonic plague in its effects. It was said to have hit workers on the day after Thanksgiving. To have a longer holiday, workers usually call in sick the day next to Thanksgiving. But employers had a hard time distinguishing whether the “sickness” was real or not.

Later on, another apparent origin of Black Friday came from the headache Philadelphia police traffic squad are experiencing on the Friday after Thanksgiving. As this marks the start of shopping for Christmas, an influx of pedestrians and shoppers cause massive traffic jams.

Thus in 1961, the term is dubbed to the two days: Black Friday and Black Saturday, which are considered the biggest shopping days of the year that cause the terrible traffic situations.

But the most plausible Black Friday origin, which somehow influences the practices of today, may perhaps come from retailers that are experiencing a rise in sales from its profit loss in as early as 1981. In accounting terms, it is the transfer from “red” to “black.”

When retailers get profit, it correlates to “black ink.” This raise in profits then gave an opportunity for retailers to make discounts and bargains for shoppers to have even higher sales.

Today, the marked-down items no longer happen on Black Friday alone. Some retailers start days, or even weeks, before Black Friday when slashing their prices to get a head start from their competitors.

Another term, Cyber Monday, or the Monday after Black Friday, also came into life for shoppers who prefer to stay in the comfort of their homes as they shop online.

Photo source: Flickr

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