Today is Good Friday and for those not of the Christian faith this is the day that Jesus died. Easter Sunday is when he is celebrated for rising from the dead. To Christians Easter is a pretty big holiday. To the rest of the world, including the retail sector, it’s a ‘meh’ kind of holiday.
Good Friday isn’t a federal holiday and most every business is open today. So why is the stock market closed?
The truth is out there, but it is not well known. So not known that a few queries to folks closer to Wall Street than I am either went unanswered or came back with best guesses or just “I don’t know”.
One of the most plausible answers is because Good Friday is a holiday all over Europe as well. Stock exchanges are closed there and that affects the volume of transactions in the US. Without much going on in Europe, the US could take the day off too. But this one doesn’t add up to me.
In the US our markets close on days like Washington’s birthday, Independence Day, and Labor Day. These are holidays not celebrated in Europe. Europe has their own holiday schedule that doesn’t line up with ours either. For instance, the London Stock Exchange is closed on Monday to celebrate Easter. The NYSE is not. Holiday synching doesn’t seem like a good answer.
It could be tradition. The NYSE is very traditional; they refer to Presidents’ Day as Washington’s birthday instead. They’ve taken almost every Good Friday off since the 19th century and it’s likely a lot more people celebrated Easter back then.
One of the most interesting theories goes to the NYSE building itself. The NYSE may not own their building and the lessor is very conservative. So the leasing contract requires all businesses be closed on Good Friday for Easter. I couldn’t confirm who owns the NYSE buildings, but if Chick Fil A is closed on Sundays, it might fit.
There are other theories as well, but they all tie back to weak trading volume on the day so the exchange just closes every year.
None of these ideas are so well grounded that they deserve a citation. The truth seems to be, that if there ever was a reason to close the exchange on Good Friday, no one remembers it.