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November 27, 2012

LIZ CIANCONE: The bottom line is what drives ‘Black Friday’ sales

TERRE HAUTE — Why is it called "Black Friday"?

Traditionally, black is the color of mourning and if the day after Thanksgiving served the purpose the merchants intend there should be dancing in the streets.

Considering the sums of money this “official” start of the holiday shopping season was expected to generate, a more appropriate name might be “Green Friday.”

For that matter, either “Silver Friday” or “Gold Friday” could also be fitting. “Black Friday” may apply only to those disappointed shoppers who either didn’t get up early enough or who found the bargains all gone by the time they got to the front of the line. Or maybe it would fit shoppers who got a black eye or other bruises when a fist-fight broke out over the final few of the bargains. Black might also be a bargain purchase for the next of kin of those who actually got trampled to death in the mad rush.

Certainly “Blue Friday” wouldn’t work. What with the dancing in the streets by those who actually did score a bargain, and by the merchants who sold them, the thought that either of these triumphant parties would be sad and blue doesn’t work. They may be exhausted, but they are not depressed.

I did give a brief thought to “Yellow Friday.” This time of year we could all use a little sunshine which might also apply to the smiles on the faces of the merchants. If the latter are too exhausted to party, may I suggest relaxing at home with a glass of wine and a quiet dinner?

If we must go with color, I toyed with the idea of “Red Friday” but decided that red, as in red ink, is exactly what the merchants are trying to avoid by advertising all those alluring bargains and encouraging the “shop-’til-you-drop” approach to Christmas. Even if the bargains are something we neither need nor want, the lure of a bargain is sometimes too tempting to resist.

After thinking it over, maybe “Black Friday” is the way to go. Since the purpose of this day of all days is to get to the stores and finding a super bargain to the benefit of the bottom line, we should just acknowledge that we are hoping to find a bargain, yes, but also to end the year in the black and not in the red. We want the black ink at the end of the bottom line. We want celebration. Too bad if some of it might end in mourning.

I don’t know. I’m just asking. Is that why we call it what we do?

Liz Ciancone is a retired Tribune-Star reporter. Send e-mail to opinion@tribstar.com.

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