Black Friday 2007 Best Buy
(Courtesy Tshien on Flickr)

In just a matter of days, tens of millions of Americans will descend on America’s malls and shopping centers for the kick off to the holiday shopping season. “Black Friday” is the designated name for this day, but where did the term originate?

According to the not-so-reliable source, Wikipedia, the earliest known reference to Black Friday was made in a 1966 publication. According to the story, the Philadelphia Police Department hated the day after Thanksgiving because shoppers crammed the city center and brought traffic to a grinding halt. As you can imagine, the term took on more prominence from that point forward, especially within the last decade.

Flash forward to 2005 when the term “Cyber Monday” entered our lexicon. The term did not gain popularity organically, but rather, was created by the National Retail Federation to signify the busiest online shopping day of the year. You could think of it as the self-created “Hallmark” holiday of the retail industry, one that was tightly organized. The day typically falls on the Monday after Thanksgiving.

Within the past few years, with retail stores opening on Thanksgiving, the term “Gray Thursday” also came into prominence. Not every store opens on Thanksgiving, but those that do are in a collective “gray” area, not sure whether to count on a surge of early-bird shoppers or a more tepid response. In fact, some retailers experienced a public backlash this year for requiring employees to work the evening of Thanksgiving, when many families are still enjoying a turkey dinner

Regardless of what day you choose to shop on, the deals are in full swing this year. Retailers are hoping that America might be turning the corner on this recession and will start spending some money. Call it what you want, but you’ve basically got a weekend bookended with a shopping extravaganza. Enjoy it while the deals are still hot.

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