In the early 2000s the Friday after Thanksgiving, the traditional kick-off of the holiday shopping season, became known as Black Friday, which belied what it really is: a celebration of that most American thing, the shopping spree.
For retailers, Black Friday was also known as a day that often started at 3 or 4 a.m. and included hordes of shoppers and "door-buster" specials.
Black Friday got its name in Philadelphia in the 1950s, where it described the traffic the day after Thanksgiving. An alternative explanation had it that "Black Friday" was the day retailers finally made it into "the black."
Employees who had to be on the job at 3 a.m. on Black Friday may now wish for the bad old days. More and more retailers have decided to get right to it by opening on Thanksgiving. Most are waiting until later in the day, like 8 or 9 p.m., to open the doors, but for employees that still means grabbing some turkey with the family, watching a little football and heading into work. Most of the big stores will still open at 6 a.m. or so on Friday, so there's no rest for the weary.