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The Dark History Behind the Name “Black Friday”

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The Dark History Behind the Name “Black Friday”

There are quite a few theories surrounding the origins of the name “Black Friday but the most commonly repeated story behind the post-Thanksgiving shopping-related Black Friday tradition links it to retailers.

As the story goes, retail companies used to record losses in red and profits in black. The stores operating at a loss—or “in the red”—tended to go back “into the black” on the day after Thanksgiving, so some people believe that this is where the name “Black Friday” originates from.

This means after an entire year of operating at a loss (“in the red”) stores would supposedly earn a profit (“went into the black”) on the day after Thanksgiving, because holiday shoppers blew so much money on discounted merchandise.

In recent years, another myth has surfaced that gives a particularly ugly twist to the tradition, claiming that back in the 1800s Southern plantation owners could buy slaves at a discount on the day after Thanksgiving. Though this version of Black Friday’s roots has understandably led some to call for a boycott of the retail holiday, it has no basis in fact.

Felicity Gitonga

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