This Friday is Black Friday 2017.  For many Americans, and countries around the world, the day after American Thanksgiving is the kickoff to the holiday shopping season.  It all starts with a day of great deals.

Black Friday 2017

But why is it called Black Friday?

Sure, it takes place on a Friday.  Where did the term “black” come from though?

There are many varied stories out there as to how this international holiday received its name.  The more prevalent one has nothing to do with race, and everything to do with color – specifically, with the color of ink and a business’ accounting books.

Retailers usually operated at a financial loss for most the year.  It wasn’t until the holiday season that they actually began to turn a profit.  That profit would give them enough revenue to make it through the next year.  Or at least they hoped as much.

Either way, when a business becomes profitable, the traditional color in which to record that is black.  Red is the color for debt and losses.  So when people began shopping on the day after Thanksgiving, retailers were finally able to record their numbers in black ink.  Thus, Black Friday. 

It isn’t clear what day could be considered Red Monday.  Perhaps the day after Christmas when people go to return all the presents they didn’t want.  That would make for a very short profitable season.

There are many other ways in which to think of Black Friday and its name.  You wake up early, in the black of the morning, to get in line for your chance to buy this year’s hottest items. 

Another theory has to do with factory workers and the fact that they had to go back to work the day after Thanksgiving.  After a day of unabashed gluttony, it is hardly fun to go straight back to the mills.  This condition was deemed “Friday-after-Thanksgiving-itis.”  Which doesn’t quite roll off the tongue.  So an intrepid newspaper reporter likened it to the bubonic plague and referred to the day as Black Friday, as if a great cloud hung over each and every individual being forced back into the workplace.

There are people out there who wish to attribute the term to even more negative connotations, but those theories are not worth the effort to recount.  Whatever your opinion of the day, you can’t deny the value that it brings to retailer and consumer alike.  There are businesses out there that depend solely on their revenue from the holiday season.  If they have a bad season, they might not make it the next year. 

So this year, while you’re making your Black Friday 2017 battle plans, be sure to include some local businesses in your trip.  The lines are sure to be shorter, and you’ll be helping out your local community.  These family owned businesses are counting on you to support them.  Plus, they usually have better things than large retailers.  You can’t take for granted the creative and entrepreneurial spirit of the American people.