WHAT’S SO BLACK ABOUT FRIDAY?
It has been several years since the media suddenly discovered the term “Black Friday,” a designation that’s used-to-death these days to describe the Friday following Thanksgiving. It refers to that hyperactive moment when consumers suddenly discover they (a) have no Christmas presents in hand, and (b) have a whole day (plus weekend) off in which to shop.
I remember that the first time I heard the term, I found myself wondering why on earth the descriptive adjective was “Black?” As someone with mild synesthesia, I could readily understand connecting a color to a day of the week. To me, Monday is royal blue; Tuesday is red; Wednesday green; Thursday purple, Friday chartreuse, Saturday orange, and Sunday lemon yellow. Don’t ask me for an explanation. That’s just the way it is.
Like many synesthetics, I also connect colors with numbers, 1 being robin’s egg blue, 2 pink, 3 kelly green, etc. up to about 11. I haven’t thought deeply about letters, but I get glimpses of colors there, too. “A” is definitely red and Q is avocado green.
I recall getting into quite an argument with a similarly-cursed friend, who insisted that Saturday, to her, is black. “How can a weekend day be black?” I asked. “What have you got against Saturday? Black is not a happy color.”
“Oh, I adore Saturday,” she replied. “I love not setting my alarm, and I love doing things on my own schedule. But I dunno, Saturday is just black, and when black is Saturday, it’s a very lovable color.”
Maybe, I thought, “Black Friday” was named by someone who shared my friend’s weirdness. For my money (quite literally), the Friday after Thanksgiving should be called “Green Friday,” because that’s when we fork over lots and lots of greenbacks. Or perhaps more aptly, call it “Gold-and-Silver Friday,” since those are the colors of several major credit cards. Or, truest of all, “Red Friday,” because that’s where most of those shoppers will end up: in the red.
It took another friend to shoot down my suggestions and my theories about the term. He’s in retail, and with great authority he informs me that it’s called “Black Friday” because that’s the first day of hard-core Christmas shopping, opening the season that winds up the year for the stores, and puts them “in the black” no matter how poor sales have been during the earlier months.
Well, with our catastrophic economic mess, maybe that won’t happen this year. I have nothing against retail stores recouping their losses on Friday or any other day, but “Black Friday” seems to me to be a cynical use of a perfectly good color.
Let’s just call it “Shopping Friday” and have done with it.
©2008 Julia Sneden for SeniorWomen.com