Translation musings: Black Friday

Nov 29, 2013 | World events

SaleSpeaking as a Brit, Black Friday does not sound like a good thing to me. “Black” days bring to mind stock market crashes, financial misery and bankers on the ledges of very high buildings (not saying another word about that image…). But, if you’ve opened your email account today, you could well have found an inbox chock full of Black Friday deals.

Well, in the US it is the day after Thanksgiving and the start of the Christmas shopfest. Shops are opening earlier and earlier (some are even now calling it Black Thursday – eat your turkey quick, kids, we’ve got shopping to do!) and prices get slashed to bring in the crowds. And, of course, if it’s big in America it is inevitably big here.

The last few years have seen Brits subjected to Black Friday mainly through a large online business who will remain nameless. However, it is seeping into all manner of retail outlets now – even Holland and Barrett has Black Friday deals!

So when did the term first translate from “bad” to “good”? There seems to be two schools of thought. The first is that it came from Philadelphia back in the 60s, when cops and bus drivers got frustrated at the increase in shopper-related traffic and began to refer to the nightmare day as Black Friday. The retailers did attempt to rebrand to Big Friday but the black stuck, becoming a national term in the 80/90s.

There is also another theory, however, that the huge increase in buying on this fiscally revered day would traditionally put US businesses back in the black.

So, my question is – are you happy about this? Or are you just too busy shopping to care?


image: McGoo84 @ stock.xchng