Tomorrow is Black Friday in North America, the start of the Christmas shopping season. Rather an incongruous name for a festive season, no? Unless, of course, you spend yourself into the red, in which case it seems very black indeed.
Begging the indulgence of Oxford English Dictionary (and acknowledging their copyright: Copyright © Oxford University Press 2012) here are the most common uses for the term Black Friday:
1) School slang. A Friday on which an examination is held.
2) (A name given to) Friday 6 December, 1745, the date on which the landing of the Young Pretender was announced in London.
3) (A name given to) Friday 11 May, 1866, the date on which a commercial panic ensued on the failure of the London banking house Overend, Gurney, & Co.
4) U.S. (A name given to) Friday 24 September, 1869, a day of financial panic on Wall Street, precipitated by the introduction into the financial market of a large quantity of government gold, with the aim of making it more difficult to corner the gold market.
5) U.S. (A name given to) the day after Thanksgiving, which traditionally marks the start of the Christmas shopping season.