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When Black Friday comes …

Booksellers' ad for Black Friday

This planet has – or rather had – a problem, which was this: most of the people living on it were unhappy for pretty much of the time. Many solutions were suggested for this problem, but most of these were largely concerned with the movements of small green pieces of paper, which is odd because on the whole it wasn’t the small green pieces of paper that were unhappy. ~Douglas Adams

Funny thing, colours. You would think that with all the negative associations we have for BLACK, that Black Friday would be a day to stay at home as the flyer opposite (promoting books) suggests.

It turns out that the first association of the word had to do with a financial crisis in 1869, which makes sense.

So then there was a bit of a jump to the next sense, which  was to describe the traffic in Philadelphia on the day after Thanksgiving. Having never been to Philadelphia, I can’t say what it’s like, but still, it seems reasonable. After that we get to the modern definition, still the day after Thanksgiving, but now the unofficial start of the Christmas shopping season and therefore the time for all shops to climb out of the red (making a loss) into the black (making a profit).

To take advantage of this day, many stores open their doors at times that would make you go “Urggghhh” and offer special “doorbuster” offers of articles at a crazy price (certain similarity here with that great British phenomenom, the “January” Sales).

Here’s an example from last year in Salt Lake City.

Disney Store on Buy Nothing Day ( Black Friday...

Image by Steve Rhodes via Flickr

The other side of the coin is the Adbusters Media Foundation, based in Vancouver, Canada. (It appears that many Canadians also take advantage of the sales, as this insurance website claims). Adbusters organises a BUY NOTHING DAY to coincide with Thanksgiving and Black Friday, in an attempt to “opt out of consumer culture for 24 hours and send world leaders gearing up for the Copenhagen climate summit a message.”

Whatever you decide to do (or not to do), we hope you have a safe Friday and a great weekend!

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Strange Random Language Fact:
In Chinese, the words crisis and opportunity are the same
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  1. November 27, 2009 at 12:40 pm

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