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|“Black Friday” once referred to employees calling in sick after Thanksgiving.|
|The day after Thanksgiving is known for the deluge of holiday shoppers that descends on stores for serious savings. Some will tell you that the term “Black Friday” originally referred to the bottom lines of these stores, as the day of skyrocketing sales sent them out of the “red” (losing money) and into the “black” (making money) — hence, “Black Friday.” However, the origins of the phrase are a bit murkier. .The first known use of “Black Friday” to describe the day after Thanksgiving comes from the November 1951 issue of the page-turning magazine Factory Management and MaintenanceIn it, a writer hyperbolically describes the day as “a disease second only to the bubonic plague in its effects. At least that’s the feeling of those who have to get production out, when the ‘Black Friday’ comes along. The shop may be half empty, but every absentee was sick … ” In other words, “Black Friday” wasn’t about hordes of shoppers pulsing through stores, but weary (and possibly hungover) factory workers calling in sick.
Although this is the first recorded use of the term, it’s unlikely that this version is what eventually became known across the U.S. as “Black Friday” in the late 20th century. Our modern sense of the term likely originated in the 1950s, when Philadelphia cops began using “Black Friday” to describe the traffic mayhem of shoppers and sports fans descending on the city after Thanksgiving and before the Army-Navy football game on Saturday. Philadelphia stores tried to change the name to “Big Friday” but failed, so instead transformed the day’s negative connotation into a positive one, and the idea of “Black Friday” as a day of financial solvency was born.
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