Wall Street is full of adages, superstitions, and myths – and that includes the explanation of why the stock market is closed on Good Friday.
The New York Stock Exchange, aka the Big Board, has been closed every Good Friday for some 150 years, with the exception of 1898, 1906, and 1907. The Friday before Easter is the only non-federal holiday among the exchange's nine closed days.
The story that's been spread for decades is that Wall Street gets the day off because of its association with a couple of notable stock market crashes, not simply because it is a Christian holy day.
I even called my Catholic father, a retired American Stock Exchange Vice Chairman, governor and 35-year ASE stock specialist, who followed in the career path of his father and grandfather, for his take on the Good Friday closing.
"Whenever there was talk about opening the exchanges on Good Friday, which did come up over the years, it was quickly shot down," he said. "We all knew to do so was just courting bad luck."
But what's funny is there never was a big crash to blame for Good Friday's bad luck.
UBS's Art Cashin explained this week:
"The myth contends that the NYSE opened on a Good Friday and the terrible Black Friday occurred," Cashin wrote. "Thus, chastened and shaken, the Governors vowed never to open on a Good Friday again."
But, Cashin added, "it never happened."
Here are the stock market crashes that get confused for the Good Friday curse…
The Gold Market's Black Friday Crash
The infamous and calamitous Black Friday crash did occur in Wall Street's early days, but it was the gold market principally affected, and it happened on Sept. 24, 1869, not Good Friday.
The painful plunge transpired thanks to two known "scoundrels," Jay Gould and Jim Fisk, who had a history of engaging in stock market scams.