The Real Reason Black Friday Is Called Black Friday

Black Friday is a consumer's dream and an agoraphobic's worst nightmare. Most people's opinions of it generally depend on how badly they want to increase the size of their TV on a given year. But love it or hate it, it's as much a part of American culture as backyard Bubba Burgers and Budweiser. Here's how Black Friday got its horror movie name.

According to The Balance, It all started in the 1950s, when people started calling in sick the day after Thanksgiving. Whether they were hungover from turkey, booze and in-laws, or just wanted a four-day weekend, it became such a common practice that many businesses eventually made it another paid holiday.

Keep it in the black

Obviously, since Americans are chomping at the bit to get to Christmas, the very second the last bit of stuffing has been devoured, Mariah Carey hits the radio waves and people head for the mall, Walmart, or any other fine retailer where Beanie Babies and Tickle-Me Elmos are sold. 

Stores were open, people were in full-blown Christmas spirit, and by 1961, Philadelphia police were using the terms "Black Friday" and "Black Saturday" to describe the traffic jams that occurred two days after Thanksgiving. Of course, much of that traffic would have been travelers visiting family, but the name stuck, and the day began to represent not only traffic, but profitability for retailers. As one of the most profitable days of the year, it was a day they were almost guaranteed to stay "in the black", or profitable.

The black death

Then there was the negative connotation of greed and violence. According to Black Friday Death Count, which tracks reports of violence on the holiday, there have been 12 deaths and 117 reported injuries directly related to Black Friday shopping just since 2006, meaning they missed the thousands of lives lost to Pokemon and Cabbage Patch Doll brawls. Unsurprisingly, Walmart is typically the most common site of violence, including a 2,000 person stampede in 2008 at a New York Walmart which left a 6 foot 5 inch worker dead and injured 11 others, including a pregnant woman. And if you're curious which states are most dangerous on Black Friday, they are: Arkansas, Tennessee, West Virginia, North Carolina and Alabama. 

So if you live in one of those states, or just don't like seeing the more reptilian side of humanity, you can always stay home and take advantage of Cyber Monday, which Business Insider is better for smaller items and tech purchases. But if you really want that TV, your best bet is still probably the brick and mortar store. So strap on your chain mail, arm yourself with a Razor Scooter and fidget spinner throwing stars and buy, buy, buy like your name is Justin Timberlake.