Of Thanksgiving and Black Friday

Gobble Gobble! I hope you enjoyed Thanksgiving Day on Thursday. And how about that hectic shopping day Black Friday?!

What the hell? What is this Thanksgiving Day you speak of? And what is a Black Friday?

Don’t act like you do not know. Thanksgiving is a holiday we are now celebrating here in Guyana. Friends send each other greetings, some families make dinner and invite loved ones, and some restaurants market it on posters and have lunch specials.

culture boxI see ZoOn, an online shopping and shipping company in the city had a Black Friday promotion this year and pretty soon all the stores in Guyana will have their Black Friday sales where we can rush and pick up our discounted merchandise for the holiday season. After all, Thanksgiving is the holiday that kicks off this coming season of festivities and gifts, decorations, family time and the joy that comes with Christmas, kicked up again a week later then concluded with New Year’s Day.

Come on, we have been doing it for the past couple of years. Merging ‘northern’ holidays with our local celebrations and even taking it as a marketed product. Some see it as selling out, businesses like the added profits – both marketing and the media prey on our vulnerability to these foreign holidays. It makes us feel a bit American, eh? And we enjoy that.

An argument can be made that these businesses should promote our local celebrations and culture rather than market something else, but do we really want that when we are quite enjoying US holidays and customs?

Did you not notice that Halloween is now a big thing now in Guyana? Halloween costumes on sale, candies in stock, pumpkin carving, and ohhhh the costume parties and scary themes! But what does Halloween mean to us, and what really is Thanksgiving. I ask that you read about these traditions yourselves.

The National Football League (NFL) Super Bowl is quite a hot plate in Guyana too. Few of us can name for two teams of the NFL, yet 704 is packed and friends even hold Super Bowl parties. We also see the ‘band-wagonists’ during the FIFA World Cup and we will see it again every year with the NBA Finals.

Okay no problem if you are exploring other sports and celebrating them but how many can name the members of the Guyana Football, Rugby, Basketball and Cricket teams? And answer this: How many times has the stadium been filled for football and rugby matches? The Golden Jaguars had to beg for us to come out and show support and still the attendance was dismal.

Mashramani is a few months away and we will hear about J’Ouvert. But Calypso competition, what is that? Who will go to the School’s Dramatic Poetry competition? But make way for carnival, bacchanal and party trucks, while shoving aside national arts, national music, national creativity and pride.

This is not a complaint, this is food for thought. Sure we can celebrate US holidays, we have a stronger connection to the US than we do to our former colonial crown. Geographically we are right in the US’s backyard, but do we really have to be a mirror culturally?

The dominance of the United States is stamped this all over the world, we are not unique. There is nothing wrong with marketing a holiday and celebrating it with our own adaption, what is wrong is when we embrace it and choose to celebrate it more than the holidays that have historical and cultural significance. What is wrong is when we choose to water down our traditions, because when we can’t pass them on to the future generations we would have effectively lost them. (Jairo Rodrigues)


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