The History of Black Friday

Learn how Black Friday began, the biggest shopping day in the U.S.! Find out how chaotic it has gotten over the years. Do you shop on Black Friday?

American English Podcast

American English Podcast

By Shana Thompson


To start listening to the story of Black Friday, begin the audio at 7:18.

Over the past century, Black Friday has become one of the biggest shopping days of the year in the US, and for good reason. People living in the States celebrate a whirlwind of holidays from October to December. The festivities begin with Halloween, which falls on the 31st of October and ends with New Year’s Eve on December 31st.

One of the big holidays celebrated in the US is Thanksgiving and it takes place on the fourth Thursday of November. For many Americans, the end of Thanksgiving means the beginning of the holiday shopping season. Since many companies give their employees the Friday after Thanksgiving off, it has become a day in which millions of Americans get out of the house and start swiping their credit cards. Many Americans also spend this day shopping online.

As legend has it, the big shopping day was coined Black Friday because a company, regardless of its financial history, could go in the black on that day. In other words, they could turn a profit even if they had spent the previous 11 months in the red. In other words, in debt.

On that day, holiday shoppers splurge on Christmas gifts and no company wants to be left out of the potential profit. This is why many companies have jumped on the bandwagon and started offering deals.

According to, the first Black Friday didn’t have much to do with a holiday shopping surge at all, and rather with post-Thanksgiving chaos in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.


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Shana - ESL Teacher

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