With the off-year election results now behind us, and all the dust settled on that, the next November event to next captivate America will be Black Friday, the biggest shopping day of the year. But where did the Black Friday name come from? Well, let’s first take a look at what it is, before getting into what it means. This “event” occurs on the Friday after Thanksgiving each year, and in 2023 it will fall on Nov. 24. It actually commands more media coverage and national attention than the actual holiday which transpires the previous day.
Crazy, right? We’ve already been seeing plenty of Black Friday advertising for weeks on end.
According to the corporate industrial-complex, once Halloween is over, it is officially Christmas shopping season/time to hype up Black Friday. You are hearing the Black Friday name. Black Friday term, etc. etc. Non-stop already. BLACK FRIDAY!!!
Those are the rules and that’s how it works these days, which is very unfortunate.
That’s because Thanksgiving is actually my favorite holiday. Or perhaps that’s a big reason why it’s my favorite holiday- it’s the underdog that flies under the radar. As it’s overshadowed by Christmas and Halloween, Thanksgiving is like the Philadelphia of holidays.
What we mean by that is- the city of Philadelphia “suffers because it’s smack dab in the middle of New York and Washington,” said former Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell in 2016. Philly is overshadowed by New York and D.C. just like Thanksgiving is overshadowed by Halloween and Christmas.
These days, it’s additionally engulfed by the day that immediately follows it. And coincidentally enough, the Black Friday name has a massive Philly connection too! Philadelphia police used the term in the 1950s to refer to the day in between Thanksgiving and the Army-Navy football game on the following Saturday.
The Army-Navy game was eventually moved to the second Saturday in December, where it resides today.
This sandwiched day drew huge throngs of tourists and shoppers to the city, leading to crowd control problems, nightmarish traffic and well, general unruliness.
Kind of sounds like the fight club style videos that we see every year when the stores open early, and all the people rush in, mosh pit style!
Philadelphia area merchants tried to change the name to Big Friday, but the new moniker never took hold.
For a few decades now, the Black Friday name has been an institution, but the widely believed narrative regarding its etymology is totally incorrect!
To be “in the black” on a financial ledger sheet means that you’re profitable. Conversely, if you’re “in the red,” your costs are exceeding your income. Thus, it’s a common misnomer that the Friday after Thanksgiving is the moment that stores, driven by the extreme excess of sales, go “in the black.”
It is not true; the actual origin of the Black Friday name relates to two white collar criminals/financial fraudsters. The Black Friday gold panic of September 24, 1869 was caused by two conspiratorial investors- Jay Gould and his partner James Fisk.
They took advantage of a small-time speculator they knew named Abel Corbin, who had married Virginia (Jennie) Grant, the younger sister of then President Ulysess Grant.
Grant, regarded to be an elite general but a lousy President, was selling Treasury gold at weekly intervals in order to pay off the national debt, stabilize the dollar, and boost the economy, which was still in tatters from the Civil War.
Gould and Fisk used their connections to the Oval Office as a way to drive up the price of gold, and a market crash soon followed. The stock market fell 20% in one day, international trading halted, and agricultural futures took a beating.
All the while some estimates claim that Gould and Fisk made off with about $12 million. So underneath it all, Black Friday began with nothing but white collar/corporate crime.
The more things change, the more they stay the same.
Paul M. Banks is the owner/manager of The Sports Bank. He’s also the author of “Transatlantic Passage: How the English Premier League Redefined Soccer in America,” and “No, I Can’t Get You Free Tickets: Lessons Learned From a Life in the Sports Media Industry.”
He’s written for numerous publications, including the New York Daily News, Sports Illustrated and the Chicago Tribune. He regularly appears on NTD News and WGN News Now, while writing for the International Baseball Writers Association of America. You can follow the website on Twitter.