55. Black Friday?

It was puzzling enough when my cousin posted a Facebook photo of her granddaughter dressed as a “vampiretta” for Halloween. As far as I knew, Italians made a big deal of All Souls Day, November 2, getting together with family and visiting the cemeteries where their loved ones are buried. Italian cemeteries, by the way, are well-tended places, often visited by relatives who leave fresh flowers and sometimes even poems, messages and other remembrances. But I had never heard of the whole Halloween costume and trick-or-treat custom taking hold there.

This morning, I was puzzled again to receive an emailed ad from an Italian bus company for Black Friday discounts on tickets. (I get these bus ads because I bought tickets on line for a journey from Naples to Puglia.) “Black Friday has arrived!” reads the ad. “Fifteen percent discount on all tickets.” “Have a good trip on MarinoBus and Happy Black Friday!”

First of all, Italians don’t celebrate Thanksgiving, so “Black Friday” isn’t hitched to a significant date in their calendar. Second, they don’t do a big, crazy, materialistic Christmas like we do. In fact, gifts are given to children on the eve of the Feast of the Epiphany, when legend has it that an old hag La Befana gives gifts to children because she is searching for Baby Jesus. It is unlikely that Italians would be imagining the fourth Friday in November as a time to purchase large-screen TVs and Instant Pots, let alone discounted bus tickets.

I’m guessing that the use of English in “Happy Black Friday” is a tip-off that this is just another example of the cachet and cool of all things American.

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