Black Friday is known for its endless lines, mad dashes through overcrowded aisles and the occasional anguished cry of a shopper who just missed the last discounted DVD player. For all its madness, Black Friday continues to draw tens of millions of Americans to stores and malls ever year after Thanksgiving.  

The tradition of Black Friday has its roots in 1950s Philadelphia. The city’s police coined the term to describe the throngs of suburban shoppers who came to the city the day after Thanksgiving to catch promotional sales before the annual Army-Navy football game on Saturday, according to CNN Money. "It became this comical reference to downtown Philadelphia following Thanksgiving,” Bonnie Taylor-Blake, a University of North Carolina neuroscience researcher, told CNN. Other retailers started slowly catching on that offering hugely discounted prices on their products one day a year was a great way to drum up sales.

The rush to get the best deals before supplies run out has not always been cordial. Black Friday is notorious for its often heated confrontations and tugs-of-war among bargain-hunters over big-ticket items like televisions and smartphones.

Some have argued that the idea of Black Friday no longer exists in practice, as many stores have started opening their doors to shoppers on Thanksgiving. Millions of U.S. consumers have started their holiday shopping the day before Black Friday, picking up deals traditionally reserved for the day after Thanksgiving. “Black Friday has turned into Black November,” Richard E. Jaffe, a retail expert at the investment bank Stifel, told the New York Times.

Here are 11 images from this year’s biggest shopping day of the holiday season: 

bf-1 Thanksgiving Day bargain-hunters line up to start shopping at a Target in Chicago, Nov. 27, 2014. Photo: Reuters

bf-2 People carry shoes in Macy's during Thanksgiving sales in New York, Nov. 27, 2014. Photo: Reuters

bf-3 People look in the window before the Toys R Us store opens in Times Square in New York, Thanksgiving evening, Nov. 27, 2014. Toys R Us opened at 5 p.m., ahead of many other Black Friday retailers. Photo: Reuters

bf-4 Shoppers line up outside Best Buy before the store opens in Jersey City, New Jersey, Nov. 27, 2014. Photo: Reuters

bf-5 Shoppers enter Best Buy as the store opens in Jersey City, New Jersey, Nov. 27, 2014. Photo: Reuters

bf-6 A girl poses with an Olaf plush toy from Disney's "Frozen" toy line at the Toys R Us in Times Square. Photo: Reuters

bf-7 Thanksgiving Day shoppers carry televisions at a Target store in Chicago. Photo: Reuters

bf-8 Shoppers line up outside Best Buy before the store opens in Jersey City, New Jersey, Nov. 27, 2014. Photo: Reuters

bf-9 Protesters hold signs outside Macy's in New York before the kickoff of Black Friday sales, Nov. 27, 2014. The pickets were protesting the grand jury decision not to indict Police Officer Darren Wilson for the shooting death of Michael Brown. Photo: Reuters

bf-10 People shop for Skylander toys at Toys R Us in Times Square in New York, Nov. 27, 2014. Photo: Reuters

bf-11 Women try on shoes in Macy's to kick off Black Friday sales in New York, Nov. 27, 2014. Photo: Reuters