The phrase Black Friday was used for the first time in 1869 and had nothing to do with Christmas shopping. That day, the plummeting gold prices caused stock markets to tumble, which led to a severe market crash that affected the U.S. economy for years.
Around the 1950s or '60s, the first mentions of Black Friday as we know it now were used in Philadelphia. The police used the term to describe the chaos of the shoppers that flooded into the city on the day after Thanksgiving. The number of shoppers created traffic accidents and the chaos sometimes even led to violence.
The city's retailers tried to change the expression to ''Big Friday'' to get rid of the negative connotation but remained unsuccessful. The holiday term was first used in print in 1966. As recently as 1985, it became common use nationwide. Retailers found a way to reinvent Black Friday and turn it into something that reflected on them positively by using the ''red to black'' story. The story was a concept from the past, where stores who had not done well that year finally turned a profit. After the massive sales they did on the day after Thanksgiving, they saw their bank account number change from red (debt) to black (positive). The story stuck, and soon the term's roots in Philadelphia were forgotten. Since then, the sales craze has turned into a large event.