After the turkey has been eaten, the football games have been watched and digestion is fully under way, millions of Americans turn to another holiday tradition: planning their Black Friday shopping spree.

That’s right! It’s the day after Thanksgiving, and that means it’s time to shop. Black Friday — the day after Thanksgiving in the United States — signals the beginning of the holiday shopping season.

Although it’s not an official holiday, millions of employers give their employees the day off, and many people use that day to get a jump-start on their holiday shopping. A similar day in Canada and Great Britain is called “Boxing Day.”

Black Friday has become somewhat of a marketing sensation in recent years. Since 2005, it has been the busiest shopping day of the year. To lure shoppers, retailers routinely open their doors as early as 4 a.m. and offer special sales and promotions to the shoppers that arrive early.

Some of the special deals offered by stores are only available in limited quantities. That is why some shoppers intent on getting the best deals often camp out in front of stores overnight so that they’ll be the first in line when the doors open.

But why Black Friday? There are a couple of explanations of how this name came about.

Historians believe the name started in Philadelphia in the mid-1960s. Bus drivers and police used “Black Friday” to describe the heavy traffic that would clog city streets the day after Thanksgiving as shoppers headed to the stores.

Businesses, however, didn’t like the negative tone associated with the Black Friday name. In the early 1980s, a more positive explanation of the name began to circulate.

According to this alternative explanation, Black Friday is the day when retailers finally begin to turn a profit for the year. In accounting terms, operating at a loss (losing money) is called being “in the red” because accountants traditionally used red ink to show negative amounts (losses).

Positive amounts (profits) were usually shown in black ink. Thus, being “in the black” is a good thing because it means stores are operating at a profit (making money).

Regardless of when a retailer turns a profit for the year, it’s clear that Black Friday is a very important day for most retailers. Some retailers are indeed dependent on holiday shopping to turn a profit for the year. For others, it’s a day when they definitely make bigger-than-usual profits — and that’s a lot of black ink!

The recent popularity of Black Friday has spawned another new shopping holiday: Cyber Monday. For those who are too busy to shop on Black Friday — or who just don’t want to fight the crowds — the Monday following Black Friday has become known as Cyber Monday for the many online deals that shoppers can take advantage of from the comfort of their homes.


20 Join the Discussion

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars  (36 votes, avg. 4.22 out of 5)
    • Thanks for visiting Wonderopolis today, Stupendous! It sounds like you got some good bargains when you went shopping on Black Friday! Way to go! :-)

  1. I love Black Friday, because there is cheap clothes and good sales. I love going to Black Friday and shopping. Black Friday is fun. :)

    • We know LOTS of other Wonder Friends who enjoy shopping on Black Friday, too, Meghan! Thank you for stopping by this Wonder and for leaving us a comment! :-)

  2. When I found this Black Friday wonder, I was immediately interested! I have always wondered if other countries did a Black Friday kind of day, I learned that in Canada and Great Britain they do it, but they call it “Boxing Day”. I was shocked to find out that some stores open as early as 4:00 am for those who like to camp out over night to get to the items who have limited stocks. I learned that they call it Black Friday because of bus drivers, they called the clogged up traffic Black Friday the day after Thanksgiving and it just stuck! A red tag means you lost money but a black tag means you got a profit, so they still say Black. I also liked reading a little bit about cyber Monday! I knew somethings about it, but not a lot! 2 vocabulary words I learned are Boxing Day and cyber. Thanks Wonderopolis for this great article!

    • WOW! You sure learned a lot about Black Friday and Cyber Monday, Team Unger #11! Way to go! Thanks for sharing all the cool facts you liked from this Wonder of the Day®! :-)

    • Hello, Cupcake 21! We appreciate you letting us know that you liked this Wonder of the Day®! Thanks for visiting Wonderopolis and THANKS for being a GREAT Wonder Friend! :-)

  3. I did always wonder why it was called “Black Friday”. Now I know thanks to Wonderopolis! You guys are the best!

    Thank you,
    Alissa P.

    • HOORAY, we’re happy that your’re here, Alissa P! We Wonder if you have ever gone shopping on Black Friday, or if you prefer to sleep in and stay in your pajamas all day? Or perhaps you spending time with family and friends?! :)

    • Hi, Maria. Due to the large crowds, those unfortunate and tragic events have occasionally happened on Black Friday, but that is not how it got it’s name. As the WONDER tells us, Black Friday got its name because it played an important factor in businesses finally seeing a profit for the year. So, why black? Profits (positive amounts) are shown in black on accounting documents. Check out Wonder #888: Are You in the Red or the Black?. This will explain more about the black and red ink. Thanks for WONDERing with us! :)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>


  • Wonderopolis on Facebook
  • Wonderopolis on Pinterest
  • Print

Have you ever wondered…

  • Why is it called “Black Friday”?
  • Is it better to be “in the black” or “in the red”?
  • What is Cyber Monday?

Wonder Gallery

sale sign_shutterstock_41845789Vimeo Video

Try It Out

Have you been good this year? Really? Says who? You?

As the gift-giving holiday season approaches, you may have started thinking about the gifts you might like to give and receive. What better day to think about shopping than Black Friday?

Take some time today to start a list of gift ideas for others. Rather than buying something, it might be something special you do for someone else.

You also can write a persuasive letter to your parents about the gifts you want most this year. A persuasive letter is one that attempts to persuade (convince) the reader of your views.

In your letter, you will attempt to convince your parents that you deserve the gifts you want. You’ll want to put some thought into your letter.

Should you list the gifts you want first? Or should you list them later in the letter… after you’ve talked about — and given several examples of — how good you’ve been this year?

It will be important to remember that your belief that you’ve been good this year is an opinion. It’s simply what you believe to be true. Your brothers, sisters, friends, classmates and parents could hold other opinions.

To convince your parents that they should agree with your opinion that you’ve been a good boy or girl this year, you should think of some facts that support your opinion. These should be clear examples of times that you’ve been helpful, kind or behaved appropriately.

You might also want to bring up and explain any clear examples of times you may have behaved inappropriately. Being honest about these times will help strengthen your overall argument, as long as the good times outweigh the bad, of course!

One final note: Don’t bother to list gifts that you know are unrealistic. If you live in a city or only have a small yard, even the best child is not likely to get a pony as a gift.

Be realistic with your hopes and keep in mind the old saying about it being better to give than to receive. It’s quite true!

If you want, share your letter with us via email. We’d love to read it!


Still Wondering

In Illuminations’ Parking at the Mall lesson, children develop number sense in and around the shopping mall.


Wonder Categories/Tags

Wonder What’s Next?

Tomorrow’s Wonder of the Day is chilling in the refrigerator. It’s almost time to take it out and pop it in the microwave!

Upload a Photo or Paste the URL of a YouTube or SchoolTube Video.