I’m sure that this is not the first year that Black Friday has been as widely promoted as it seems to be. This is, however, the first year that I have been particularly annoyed by the profusion of “Black Friday” references that began more than a week ago and which litter my computer screen whenever I check my e-mail or surf the internet. Perhaps it is a natural result of trying to restore the health of a miasmic national economy. I suspect, however, that it is more likely a sign of the gross consumerism which drives the lives of most of the American population.
In Europe, “Black Friday” is associated with the October 24, 1929 stock market crash in this country. That occurred on a Thursday but because of the time difference did not affect Europe until the next day (Friday the 25th).
In Australia, “Black Friday” is associated with one of the world most devastating wildfires which burned nearly 5 million acres, killed 71 people and destroyed several towns on January 13, 1939.
In India, “Black Friday” is associated with the serial bombings in Mumbai, killing over 1500 people on March 12, 1993.
In England, “Black Friday” is the last Friday before Christmas. It is the busiest night of the year for restaurants and nightclubs because it is the traditional time for office Christmas parties. Not coincidentally, it is also the busiest day of the year for England’s emergency services.
In the United States, the term “Black Friday” was born in the 1960s and it was initially a regional term, originating in Philadelphia, and used only in the eastern US. “Black Friday” was the name which the Philadelphia Police Department gave to the Friday following Thanksgiving Day. It was not a term of endearment. “Black Friday” was the day that officially opened the Christmas shopping season in center city, and it caused massive traffic jams and over-crowded sidewalks as the downtown stores were mobbed from opening to closing.
The New York Times, reported on November 29, 1975, in an article entitled “Army vs. Navy – A Dimming Splendor”: Philadelphia police and bus drivers call it “Black Friday” – that day each year between Thanksgiving Day and the Army–Navy Game. It is the busiest shopping and traffic day of the year in the Bicentennial City as the Christmas list is checked off and the Eastern college football season nears conclusion.
On the same day in 1975, the Titusville Herald (Titusville PA) ran an article entitled, “Folks on Buying Spree Despite Down Economy”: Store aisles were jammed. Escalators were nonstop people. It was the first day of the Christmas shopping season and despite the economy, folks here went on a buying spree. … “That’s why the bus drivers and cab drivers call today ‘Black Friday,'” a sales manager at Gimbels said as she watched a traffic cop trying to control a crowd of jaywalkers. “They think in terms of headaches it gives them.”
The usage of the term has spread across the nation and is now commonly used everywhere. It is no longer used in the negative sense, however. Today it is used to refer to the beginning of the period of time in which retail businesses are prone to recoup any losses that they have suffered throughout the year up to this point. This day marks the beginning of the period of year-end shopping during which many will go from being in the red … to being in the “black.”
In the cyber-world in which we live, “Black Friday” has it’s counterpart known as “Cyber Friday” (don’t fight the crowds, do your shopping on line) and there is even a “Cyber Monday” (The Monday after Cyber Friday) when the official on-line shopping season begins.
At any rate, on the day after Thanksgiving, while millions revel in “Black Friday” I am still in yesterday’s spirit of thankfulness I contemplate the significance of “Good Friday”; the day on which we traditionally commemorate the crucifixion of our Lord Jesus. There it was that in God’s mind I went from being in the black (of sin) … to being in the righteousness of the Beloved! Praise God! Thank you Jesus!