Sunday, 25 October 2020

Mes Negro (Black Month) A Month is a Terrible Thing to Waste

Downtown San José retail shop offering “Mes Negro” (Black Month).

There is a level of insanity on display in Downtown San José that has been going on during the past week. People are on the streets by the hundreds of thousands. The stores are jammed, the fast food restaurants are overflowing and people are spending their brains out.

The cause of this madness is the “Black” discount days. What started out to be “Black Friday,” the day after Thanksgiving, has morphed into “Black Weekend,” then “Black Week,” and now heaven help us, “Black Month.”

- Advertisement -

That’s right “Mes Negro!”

The unfortunate term, “Black Friday,” originated in the 1960’s in Philadelphia of all places, to indicate the busiest shopping day of the year. There are many explanations about how the name originated, but what matters is that the day after Thanksgiving is considered to be the kickoff to the Christmas buying season.

So why is this happening in a country that doesn’t even celebrate Thanksgiving?

Mes Negro discounts are being offered by a variety of stores in the downtown core of San José
Mes Negro discounts are being offered by a variety of stores in the downtown core of San José

- Advertisement -

Well part of the answer involves a custom known as Aguinaldo. Actually, Aguinaldo is more than a custom, it is the law. It requires employers in Costa Rica to pay their employees two months salary during the month of December.

That means every worker in Costa Rica is suddenly flush with cash during the month of December. And the merchants do their best to relieve them of it. They offer discounts and promotions and generate excitement with advertising campaigns.

After watching the frenzy that takes place in the United States every year, the good merchants of Costa Rica decided to adapt the “black” buying season, even though it starts before most Tico workers get their Aguinaldo payments.

However, in a ghoulish twist, they have taken a season that is symbolized by the colors red and green, and they decorate their stores with black balloons and black crepe paper. Somehow this draws people into the stores. You can see this macabre décor in store fronts all over Downtown San José.

Visitors and expats from the United States are certainly aware that many of the accomplishments and customs of their country have been adapted and imitated by societies all over the world. Everything from representative democracy to rock ‘n roll.
But many find it painful to see this hideous characteristic of American life so eagerly accepted by our Costa Rican friends. And some are trying to make the whole month “black”!

For better or worse, this is all part of “the real San José.”

- Advertisement -


Michael Miller is the author of The Real San José, the first and only guide book that focuses on Downtown San José.


Captions to the photos

1. Lovely black balloons and crepe paper draw in the crowds.

2. Black Friday has morphed into Mes Negro or Black Month.

3. Nothing is sacred during the Black Season.

- Advertisement -
Michael Miller
Michael Miller
Michael Robert Miller, with over forty years of business experience, has travelled extensively in the Far East and Central America. He has been visiting San José, Costa Rica since the 1980's and has made it his mission to discover all that the city has to offer. Mr. Miller has served in the United States Navy and is a Vietnam Veteran. He holds a degree in economics. Mr. Miller currently spends his time in San José, Costa Rica and Naples, Florida.

Related Articles

Security resumed mega-operations this Saturday

QCOSTARICA - This Saturday, October 24, the Ministry of Public Security...

Campaign seeks to position Los Chiles as a tourist destination

TODAY COSTA RICA - Tourism entrepreneurs and the Costa Rican Tourism...


Costa Rica eliminates covid-19 testing requirement for travelers

QCOSTARICA  - Starting Monday, October 26, tourists, residents and nationals arriving by air in Costa Rica no longer require a negative RT-PCR test. Neither will...

National strike this Monday

QCOSTARICA - The education unions Ande, Apse, Undeca and the organizations that make up the Movimiento Sindical y Social (Trade Union and Social Movement)...

COVID-19 in Costa Rica: Country tops 100,000 confirmed cases

QCOSTARICA - As of October 22, with 1,191 new cases of COVID-19, of which 324 are by epidemiological link and 867 by testing, Costa...

#DEBUNKED: False tweet circulates in which Donald Trump relates Carlos Alvarado to Nicolás Maduro

#DEBUNKED: NOT TRUE that the president of the United States, Donald Trump, published a message on Twitter in which he relates the president of...

Marchamo reduction enters crucial stage in Congress

QCOSTARICA - The race is for a reduction of the property tax of the annual circulation permit, the Marchamo, to be approved into law...

German tourist beats up a thug who tried to steal his cell phone

QCOSTARICA - A man with the last names Campos Guzmán suffered a good beating (tremenda golpiza in Spanish) at the hands of a German...

Let's Keep This Going!

To be updated with all the latest news and information about Costa Rica and Latin America.

Log In

Forgot password?

Forgot password?

Enter your account data and we will send you a link to reset your password.

Your password reset link appears to be invalid or expired.

Log in

Privacy Policy

Add to Collection

No Collections

Here you'll find all collections you've created before.