What ever happened to Black Friday?

For a long time, the idea of Black Friday suggested something rather negative in business, such as a stock market crash. Going back into British industrial history, 15 April 1921 was the day when transport and rail unions decided against supporting striking miners - and when the miners achieved a wage subsidy on 31 July 1925, it was called Red Friday.

Now, far from being a bad event, Black Friday is anticipated with excitement in many countries. It's the day after Thanksgiving in the United States, when retailers offer significant discounts and the Christmas shopping season begins. This year, Black Friday is this Friday, 25 November.

But why is this Friday black? It seems that when it first began some years ago in the 1960s, there were in fact problems, with traffic disruption, and occasional violence, as people fought for bargains. It also appears that this day is, rightly or otherwise, seen as the first one of the year when retailers starts to move into profit (i.e. "into the black").

So times change, and with them the context and meaning of words and phrases. Perhaps something quite negative happening on a Friday might even change the accepted meaning of Black Friday back and the shopping day could get another name.


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