‘Black Friday’ has ominous history

Article Source: “Black Friday” and “Black Monday” entries in The Oxford English Dictionary.

YOU say you shopped for Christmas bargains November 25, Black Friday. Or not! You couldn’t buck the crowd, right? The term, “Black Friday”, originated, it seems, in 1951, in reference to the congestion caused by hordes of shoppers in Philadelphia, and later as a day on which retailers’ sales accounts went from red to black.

And on the negative side, an industry publication, “Factory Management & Maintenance” complained, “Friday-after-Thanksgiving-itis is a disease second only to the bubonic plague in its effects. When you decide you want to sweeten up the holiday kitty, pick Black Friday to add to the list.”

A “Black Friday” occurred as early as the year 1610, in England. Not a day of shopping, students dubbed it examination day in the nations’ schools.

Black Fridays have long been a bane in both England and America. Friday 6, December, 1745, was the date on which the landing of the Young Pretender to the English throne, Bonnie Prince Charlie, was announced in London. Black Friday was the name given to May 11, 1866, the day on which a commercial panic caused the failure of the London banking house, Overend, Gurney, & Co.

Black Friday, September 24, 1869, a day of financial panic on Wall Street, brought on by the introduction into the financial market of a large quantity of government gold. In 1970, in remembrance, W.W. Fowler wrote, in Ten Years in Wall Street, “The sun rose up lightly and brightly on the morning of that black-Friday, September 24, 1869, as though the day were to be a jocund one.”

The Sunday Mail, Jan 25, 1991: “Practically no one foresaw that money and share prices in 1987 had reached dangerously high levels. ‘Black Monday’, October 1987, The Federal Reserve had to promise to supply enough money to keep business going.”

The Wall Street Journal November 27, 2006, reported, “Despite aggressive discounting throughout November and on Black Friday, WalMart Stores Inc. reported its weakest monthly sales in more than 10 years.” In 2009, Black Friday bankrupted investment houses and caused 25 suicides in New York City.

Let’s not stop with Black Fridays. We have had Black Mondays too. A popular belief in the unlucky character of Mondays is shown in British sources from the Old English period. In 1600, Shakespeare, in Merchant of Venice: “It was not for nothing that my nose fell a bleeding on black monday last.

Easter Monday 1916 was dubbed Black Monday in remembrance of the extreme cold on April 14, 1360, when large numbers of Edward III’s army died standing before Paris in severe frost.

In 1997, the publication “Big Issue,” June 9 reported, “Yuppie culture was predominantly an Eighties phenomenon, reaching its apogee with the Big Bang of October 1986, and its nadir with Black Monday a year later.

Whether Friday or Monday, black has colored a day of financial collapse, natural disaster, terrorism, military defeat, and, of course, shopping.

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