What's in a name?

Black Friday and Cyber Monday aren't the only two holiday shopping days nicknamed by retailers and industry trade groups. In 2010, American Express cooked up Small Business Saturday in support of local businesses, and in 2011, Google, Facebook and Twitter supported those efforts through advertising credits. Some people also refer to a Green Monday when talking about the holiday shopping season. In 2010, it fell on Dec. 13. That day is named after the old greenback, since it's often a contender for the No. 1 most profitable day for stores.

The Origin of Cyber Monday

The term "Cyber Monday" was dreamt up in 2005 by a marketing team at Shop.org, a division of the National Retail Federation. The idea was to provide online retailers with a catchy hook to match the brick-and-mortar shopping frenzy fueled by mention of Black Friday savings. At the time, Cyber Monday wasn't the busiest online shopping day of the year -- it was more like the 12th -- but it's become an increasingly popular day to shop since then, even with the proliferation of high-speed Internet into most American homes [sources: National Retail Federation, Hof].

Cyber Monday starts the holiday shopping season for lots of online retailers, and in many ways, it almost immediately became a self-fulfilling prophecy. Lots of consumers were already taking part, shopping through the Black Friday weekend and into the next week, and the media seized on the concept in a big way the first year it was introduced. Many online retailers saw an unexpected jump in sales, likely as a result of these free marketing efforts. By coupling the catchy phrase with sales and promotions, Cyber Monday has since served to push sales up and boost increased online shopping throughout the holiday season.

Nowadays, even though Cyber Monday is just a slice of the holiday shopping pie, it ranks pretty well. Find out how well on the next page.