In Italy there is no Black Friday. There is some reference to days of blackness in Boccaccio’s Decameron when he wrote about the Black Plague that ravaged the city of Florence in 1348. The experience inspired him to write a story of seven men and three women who escape the disease by fleeing to a villa outside the city. The color black for centuries has been used for various calamities. In fact until the mid 1990’s the universal meaning of the term “Black Friday” referred to the US stock market crash in the 1800’s. Over the years it has taken on various connotations all related to retail profit and the creation of a shopping frenzy which some consider a modern calamity.
In Italy the holiday season officially begins on December 8, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. This is traditionally when decorations go up (both on the streets and inside Italian homes) and when some Christmas markets start. As Italians do not normally celebrate Thanksgiving unless you have moved there from the US or Canada, there is no Black Friday pressure to shop till you drop. Italians do celebrate harvest festivals with seasonal specialties like the white truffle, mushrooms, chestnuts, forest fruits, honeys, regional cheeses and of course wine. With such a bounty it’s no wonder shopping is often an after thought. As in most Italian “things to do” lists, there’s always time later to take care of a task. Proverbial procrastinators, Italian’s will wander the Christmas markets, enjoy the holiday window displays and Christmas creches but as to shopping, there’s plenty of time left for that.