Thanksgiving Fact Check: Who said 'Black Friday' is about selling of slaves?

Despite its popularity there seems to be no consensus on the origin of the Black Friday term.

Black Friday is one of the biggest and busiest sale events of the year.

During the Black Friday shopping frenzy, an average American shopper spends over $1000. If that is not an indication of how popular this day is, the fact that in 2018 alone, a total of $717.5 billion was spent on shopping, should give you an idea of the significance of this day for the US economy. [Also Read: Support #BuyNothingDay, but don't shame Black Friday shoppers]

That said. Here is something that actually will blow your mind. Till now, there is no clarity on how the term "Black Friday" came to be. Despite its vast popularity, many do not know why Black Friday is called Black Friday.

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Shoppers wrestle over a television as they compete to purchase retail items on "Black Friday" at an Asda superstore in Wembley, north London November 28, 2014 Luke MacGregor/Reuters

Among the several misinformed explanations for how the phrase "Black Friday" for the day after Thanksgiving came into being, the most ludicrous claim is that it had to do with slave trading.

There seem to be many who falsely believe that the day after Thanksgiving plantation owners would engage in buying and selling of black slaves at discounted rates, and this is how the term was coined.

The claim has no basis and has long been refuted, especially as the holiday around "Black Friday" came almost a century post the abolition of slavery.

There is a widely discussed theory that the term may have nothing to with the holiday and the term was first used in 1869 to describe a financial fraud that caused the US Gold market collapse, a report in History Channel claimed.

Another theory states that the term gained popularity in 1951 after workers began to call in sick post-Thanksgiving Day and thereby got a four-day long holiday break.

There is also another reference that claims that the Philadelphia police introduced the term in the 1960s to describe the chaotic traffic in the city ahead of the football games that were held annually between the Army and the Navy. Crowds largely comprising of families would descend on the city, crippling the traffic.

The "Black Friday" origin story but has no clear winner. There seem to have been several events in the history that contributed to the day that later came to mark the busiest shopping event of the year.

It, however, has been proved beyond doubt that none of the claims support the slavery theory.

This article was first published on November 29, 2019