At Tatutrad, we’re not just professional translators who are enthusiastic about our work; some of us also like to keep up to date with the latest trends in fashion, technology and decoration.

If you’re like us, no doubt you’ve already got your eye on an item of clothing or electronic device to take advantage of the Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals. You’ve probably even added some items to your online shopping basket so that you don’t miss out on those Christmassy socks you so desperately need.

But have you ever asked yourself about the origin of this tradition? Today, on the Tatutrad blog, we’re going to tell you about its history and the challenges that it poses for translation professionals.

Black Friday is celebrated every year in the United States on the last Friday of November, the day after Thanksgiving, and it tends to mark the start of the Christmas shopping period.

There are different theories about the origin of this tradition. One of them relates to the 1869 financial crisis in America: two speculators, Jay Gould and James Fisk, in their attempts to amass large amounts of money, caused the Wall Street stocks to crash on Friday 24 September that year, causing chaos in the markets. It was so catastrophic for the economy that it went down in history as ‘Black Friday’.

Another of these theories establishes its origin in small businesses which, in their attempt to recover from an entire year of losses due to the crisis, initiated a sales strategy the day after Thanksgiving (celebrated every year on the third Thursday of November) as a head start to the Christmas shopping period and thus turn those red numbers black.

However, regardless of its origin, what is clear is that this commercial strategy of using discounts to attract more buyers and in doing so, right the catastrophic effects of the crisis was gradually implemented to the point where it became a tradition for American shops and businesses. 

This tradition then gave rise to ‘Cyber Monday’; with the development of electronic commerce (also known as e-commerce, which we talk about in another blog post) and Internet purchases, gradually more and more people were found to prefer shopping from the comfort of their own home. Shops, in an attempt to encourage this type of shopping, began to offer discounts on their web pages, converting it into one of the biggest online shopping days of the year.

You’re probably wondering how a country such as Spain has adopted this tradition if it has nothing to do with their history or culture.

As has been seen over recent years, traditions do not escape internationalization or globalization, through which different cultures come into contact. These traditions are usually accompanied by decorative elements, presents and even discounts. In this sense, they introduce a factor that is highly appealing to businesses: consumption. Any business that signs up to celebrate will benefit economically.

We could therefore say that globalization has contributed to promoting customs and traditions, and the economic benefits that go hand in hand have contributed to their introduction and implantation.

This may explain why, in a country like Spain, customs have been or are in the process of being adopted, particularly American customs, but also customs from other countries: Halloween (United States), Oktoberfest (Germany) and Father Christmas (Nordic countries). Black Friday and Cyber Monday are just more examples.

Without doubt, the introduction of these customs poses a challenge for translators and translation companies or agencies. All these traditions have terms and concepts that either don’t have a direct translation because they do not exist in the country’s culture or are so rooted in their original language that a translation can sound forced or not very natural. 

Many specialists in sales will argue that using the term ‘Black Friday’ in marketing campaigns sounds far more attractive than the Spanish translation “viernes negro,” for example. The incentive for creating innovative and punchy campaigns sees English terms used in a Spanish translation.

As translators we find ourselves in the difficult position of striking a balance between offering a correct translation of the terms and respecting the mainstream use of these concepts (why translate a concept if no one is going to understand what it’s related to?).

That’s why we always recommend turning to a professional translator or translation agency like Tatutrad, especially in relation to issues such as this, which require in-depth knowledge of the source language and culture (where the traditions originate) and the target culture (where the translation will be used). This will always guarantee the highest quality texts. So, go on! Get in touch with us if you require this service.

We hope you’ve discovered something new about the history of this tradition. Don’t get carried away shopping!

Marina Rodríguez Colmeneroíguez-colmenero-739918ba/