It’s Thanksgiving and Black Friday rolled into one

Daniela Castro searches for flowers with sister Sofia and boyfriend, Gabriel Rojas.A.M. Costa Rica/Aaron Knapp

As daylight was fading and San José became darker and darker, the crowds along Avenida Central seemed to continue to grow more than most Tuesday nights.

All along the boulevard, people seemed to descend on the stores downtown. Individual men and women in business attire just getting off work walked quickly down the street with small shopping bags or bouquets of flowers in hand. Couples slowly strolled down the street, the woman’s head often resting on the shoulder of her male companion with their hands clasped.

A.M. Costa Rica/Aaron Knapp
Diana Garzón and her mother, Guiomar Puerta,
show off their chocolate-covered strawberries.

Whether it was these types of people, or fathers carrying large bags with home appliances in them while looking after their kids or groups of siblings or any other type, these groups were all trying to find the perfect gift for the mothers in their lives.

One such group was Daniela Castro, her sister Sofia and her boyfriend, Gabriel Rojas, who went to the corner of Avendia Central and Calle 4 to find flowers for their mothers. The sisters
also were planning on how to honor their mother today, Costa Rica’s El Día de la Madre.

“Breakfast… maybe we’ll go to the beach,” said Daniela Castro. “Normally, families go out for lunch with their mother and grandmothers.”

“And dinner,” added Sofia Castro.

Jeffrey Espinoza

In Costa Rica, mother’s day, always Aug. 15, is one of the most important days of the year both culturally and commercially. It might be compared to U.S. Thanksgiving and Black Friday in one day.

The commercial importance of this holiday is apparent. Stores, restaurants, spas and other businesses stay open on this holiday, even shops that normally do not open their doors at all on national holidays.

Jeffrey Espinoza, who works at one of the flower shops, confirmed that mother’s day is only rivaled in sales by Valentine’s Day in February. He said that no matter what Latin American country it is or what date it falls on, it will always be an important day in Latin America.

“In some countries, it’s in December. In some, it’s in May, but in Costa Rica it’s in August.”

Natalia Rojas and her boyfriend, Johann Chávez, came to the same stand looking for flowers for their parents. Rojas carried flower arrangements in both hands while Chávez held the umbrella over her.

“This one is for my grandmother,” she said as she lifted the basket in her right hand. “This one is for my mother,” she said as she lifted the other hand.

Just as they teamed up to pick out a gift for their mothers, they described how they have to make rounds to the mothers in both of their families the next day.

“We are going to have lunch with my mother, and then we will get dinner with his mother,” said Ms. Rojas.

To this couple, mother’s day is partially a holiday to generate commerce, but it is just as much a day to show appreciation for mothers.

Although shop owners do not deny the financial benefits of such a day, such as the slight increase in prices for flowers that comes this time of year according to Espinoza, they are quick to note that the celebration of their mothers is the most important part.

“It’s for love of the mother,” said one street vendor downtown, who had completely changed her corner booth to religious pictures, deep-red, heart-shaped pillows, flowers and other gifts for the holiday.

“In Latin America in general it’s very important,” said Diana Garzón, who works at Theo Chocolates, her family’s chocolate store in San Pedro. “We are very warm, sentimental and caring, so we care for our mothers.”

“It’s important for us because mom represents everything for us, our help, our guide,” she added, with help explaining the concept from her mother, Guiomar Puerta, sweeping the floor behind her, and her cousin, Juan Carlos Garzón.

Although San Pedro had a very different atmosphere Tuesday evening because it lacked the throngs of people who walked the streets downtown, Ms. Garzón said that her store had been busy and full the whole day selling cards, gifts, fruit baskets, chocolates and one of their specialties, chocolate-covered strawberries.

For Espinoza and Ms. Garzón, the day is not much of a holiday because they both will be spending the whole day at work, but they will also be spending the whole day with their mothers who work alongside their children at their family stores.

For Ms. Garzón and her mother, the holiday will have to wait one more day. “We both have to work here tomorrow, but the next day we will have dinner together,” said Ms. Garzón.

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