A Travellerspoint blog

A Quick Cultural Insight . . .

Yesterday was Thanksgiving and thankfully (no pun intended), I got to spend it with my friends at the CEC, with turkey and too many side dishes to name. Viewing all the statuses on facebook about things that people are thankful for was so awesome! Thankful people = happy people :]
One thing I have noticed that was really brought to light last night is the difference in consumer culture here is Costa Rica as compared to the United States. I feel like Americans are known for having and desiring excessive amounts of things just to have them. I am absolutely no stranger to this idea. Before I came to Costa Rica, I shopped fairly often. I don't think I spent large amounts of money on things, but I definitely had more than I need. I still have a closet full of more clothes than I could ever need back in Kentucky.

Seeing all of the Black Friday posts yesterday and today made me consider how a "holiday" such as this looks to a foreigner. Sure, if you have earned your money you have every right to spend it on whatever you like. But have you ever stopped to consider if you really need the five things in your shopping bag at Victoria's Secret or Macy's? I have asked myself that question before, and many times I have ignored it and gotten the items anyway. Down here in Monteverde, people view possessions very differently. Though there are not the amount of clothing stores here as compared to Florence, KY, either, people don't just go shopping for clothes out of boredom. They don't buy excessive amounts of anything, even food. It's not something people go with their friends and do on weekends because they are bored. Obviously people here go shopping for clothes. You do need things to wear. But clothes here are a necessity, not a source of happiness.

Why are clothes, household decorations, accessories, etc. so wanted? If I have a television that works, why do I need a bigger one? Why do we need thirty pairs of shoes? I feel a bit embarrassed that I probably have that many pairs of shoes in my closet at home. My big question is, "Why do we need THINGS?" After living out of one suitcase for a month and a half and only bringing two long-sleeved shirts and three pairs of pants, I have felt a shortage of clothing options. Trust me, it wasn't an easy adjustment. If I were at home, I would not repeat outfits very often at all. Down here, I have been wearing the same outfits for weeks, and you know what? I still feel as happy as I've always been wearing the same shirts and pants. No one makes comments like, "Oh, you wore those pants three days ago." I almost feel liberated in a way. Image doesn't feel as important, and it feels nice to just pick out clothes and not wonder how they look.

It's kind of ironic that Black Friday follows a great holiday such as Thanksgiving. We spend a day discussing and remembering things we have and are grateful for. We spend time cooking, talking, and being with our families and friends. Then, we go out the next day, even the same night in some cases, and buy more things that we probably don't need. If we were truly grateful for all we have, would we go out and buy all of these things? I have only been to one Black Friday, and I do remember buying a pair of shoes. I don't even remember what pair they were because I obviously didn't need them. I might say, "Oh, but they were SO on sale, I had to get them!" But just because they were cheap, does that make them any more necessary? I'd argue no, but other people might have different opinions.

All I'm saying is, if Thanksgiving is supposed to be a holiday where we get two or more days off of school or work, let's celebrate the way it was meant to be celebrated.

Posted by graceeppley 08:38 Archived in Costa Rica

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That is such a great perspective. We waste so much here and at times I feel overwhelmed with clutter and a bunch of things I never even needed. I would feel so liberating to go to another country where image is not more important than a personality. I see fashion as an art and a way of expression, but I surely would feel less burdened if I didn't feel pressure to dress "fashionably". I wish it was just for fun and not for impressing others. It would make a lot more sense. Great post! love ya

by Julia

Fashion is a great way of self-expression, and you do a fantastic job of that! :p And it should definitely be for fun and for yourself, too. When you feel good about yourself you feel like you can do anything and that is super important.

by graceeppley

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