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Fun on Friday: Why Is Black Friday Black?

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So, did you hit the Black Friday sales Friday morning?

That’s an emphatic “No!” for me. You’d have to just about give away stuff for free to lure me out on Black Friday. No thanks. Too peoplely!

My Black Friday tradition is to ignore it completely.

On top of my very strong desire to avoid crowds, you have to get up really early in order to join the Black Friday hordes. There isn’t a Walmart deal ever conceived that can entice me to go shopping at 5 a.m. I like to sleep more than I like saving a few bucks.

I have zero desire to go out at the butt-crack of dawn, fight traffic, elbow through a smelly mass of humanity to get into a retail store, risk a fistfight over the last discounted laptop on the shelf, stand in a long line to pay for said discounted laptop, fight traffic some more and then go home exhausted only to find out my el-cheapo laptop broke in the melee.

On top of all that, you are counting on me to put out a Friday Gold Wrap podcast. I don’t think I could do that from the Target parking lot.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I like a deal as much as the next guy. Lord knows with this inflation, we need all the deals we can get! I’m not totally anti-Black Friday. I’ll probably take advantage of a few that popped up in my email box this morning. I just don’t want to go out.

In fact, I even created a Black Friday deal. I am offering special pricing on my book Constitution Owner’s Manual: The Real Constitution the Politicians Don’t Want You to Know About. (Yes, that was shameless self-promotion. And I stand by it!)

Anyway, while we’re on the subject, do you know why they call it Black Friday?

Because it’s an awful day, that’s why!

Now, you’re probably thinking I’m just being a bah-humbug Scrooge saying that. But no – it’s true. That’s literally where the name came from.

You have probably heard that they call it Black Friday because it was traditionally the busiest shopping day of the year and it gets retailers out of “the red” and into “the black” financially for the first time during the year. But this is pretty much propaganda put out by the retail industry because they don’t want negative connotations attached to one of the most important days of the year.

The first reference to this financial explanation for Black Friday was in the Philadelphia Enquirer in 1981. (According to Wikipedia, which we all know is never wrong. Plus there is a footnote. I didn’t read it. But a footnote means it’s a real fact.)

But the earliest known use of “Black Friday” predates the Enquirer article by three decades. The term was used in the journal, Factory Management and Maintenance in 1951, referring to workers calling in sick the day after Thanksgiving. At about the same time, cops in Philadelphia started using Black Friday and Black Saturday to describe the crowds and traffic congestion as the Christmas shopping season kicked off the weekend after Thanksgiving.  In 1961, a public relations expert recommended rebranding the days, “Big Friday” and “Big Saturday.” That went nowhere. The New York Times started using Black Friday to describe the busiest shopping and traffic day in 1975. You’ll notice traffic is a recurring theme here.

So, there ya go. It’s Black Friday because it’s an awful day.

Here’s another myth-buster: Black Friday isn’t the busiest shopping day of the year. According to USA Today, since 2014, Black Friday has yielded its mantle as the busiest shopping day of the year to ”Super Saturday,” the last Saturday before Christmas.

This makes sense to me given the human propensity to procrastinate.

Well, anyway, enjoy Black Friday in whatever manner you choose. If you do go out, we’ll remember you as you were. Also, be considerate of your fellow shoppers. Say you’re sorry as you shove people out of the way. And make sure you turn your phone horizontal before you video any Black Friday fist-fights!

Or here’s an idea. Give your loved-ones gold or silver this year. You can do that from the comfort of your own home. Just call 1-888-GOLD-160 or shoot an email to [email protected]!

Fun on Friday is a weekly SchiffGold feature. I dig up some of the off-the-wall and off-beat stories relating to precious metals (however loosely) and share them with you – with tongue firmly planted in cheek. The opinions expressed are my own. They are 100% correct – but not necessarily shared by anybody else here – including Peter Schiff. Click here to read other posts in this series.

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About The Author

Michael Maharrey is the managing editor of the SchiffGold blog, and the host of the Friday Gold Wrap Podcast and It's Your Dime interview series.
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