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Black Friday
Posted: 27 November 2011 08:03 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 16 ]
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Dave Wilton - 25 November 2011 05:35 PM

But the question is how did “black Friday” become associated with the day after Thanksgiving? That’s the question people were asking. The answer seems to point to the Philadelphia police who named the day after the unusually heavy crowds on that day. It wasn’t about the shopping; it was about the crowds (and which is why its still called “black").

There’s probably another, perhaps subtle reason Philadelphia police had dubbed the name so (in addition to the increased traffic in the city because of the perfect storm created by the collision of a big shopping day with the Army-Navy football game the following day).  Longtime Philadephia reporter Joseph P. Barrett (as Ben’s column also points out) mentioned in a 1994 remembrance that not only were all police officers expected to work that day in order to deal with the traffic gridlock and parking woes, but that they were also expected to work 12-hour shifts in order to accomplish this.  It wasn’t just a busy, headache-filled day for Philadelpia police officers, it was a long day, one better spent—in an ideal world—napping and eating turkey sandwiches.

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Posted: 27 November 2011 08:46 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 17 ]
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OP Tipping - 25 November 2011 04:38 AM

Can I assume, then, that Black Friday = Friday the 13th has no currency at all in the USA?

For what it’s worth, at one time I was doing research on early appearances of superstitions involving Friday the 13th (specifically).  I can tell you that in the United States “Black Friday” was sometimes used to signify the day, but my recollection is that this usage was generally limited to a period from the 1920s into the 1950s-ish, maybe 1960s.  The term seems to have fizzled out; now, everyone here seems to calls it “Friday the 13th.”

As a sidenote, I (who am a little superstitious) was reminded about “Black Friday” used to designate that unlucky day (i.e., when the 13th of the month falls on a Friday) as I was doing some additional research on Martin Apfelbaum, who in January, 1966 gave us that important explanation of “Black Friday” (used with respect to the day after Thanksgiving).  I was a little stunned to learn that on 21 December 1988 Apfelbaum was one of the 259 killed aboard Pam Am Flight 103, which exploded over Lockerbie, Scotland as a result of a bombing.  (I know we all have to go sometime, but that struck me as a particularly calamitous exit.)

Finally, one additional piece of trivia about Fridays described as black.  JFK was assassinated on 22 November 1963, a Friday, coincidentally the one before Thanksgiving that year.  Some U.S. editorial writers at the time penned columns about the tragedy and described the day as “that black Friday.”

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Posted: 28 November 2011 08:27 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 18 ]
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Does anyone have any information about the causal mechanisms behind superstitions? Presumably some divine-ish entity is monitoring people who walk under ladders and punishing them accordingly.
Also, if I went to China would my old superstitions apply or would I have to discard them in favour of native ones? Or would both apply? It’s a real minefield out there for superstitious folk.
Maybe something analogous to the Bow Wow theory of language acquisition applies - dogs make the same sound everywhere but only humans impose etc

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