Celebrating Valentine’s Day in the Arab world

Amna received her first card ever. She looked at the red envelope and thought this might be for Abdallah and put it back on the console. Yet it clearly carried her name. She was intrigued. Who could have sent it to her and how did it come to her house? Obviously Abdallah or Maryam must have brought it. But how come they did not give it to her? Could it be from Asma who went on holiday? But they talk everyday and there was no mention of a letter.  She couldn’t resist anymore. So she rushed to the kitchen to get her glasses. Then went to open it in the mails. As she started tearing the edge she realized it was very special. She could smell the bouquet of red roses on the cover and they had the same scent as her favorite perfume. Under the bouquet there was a beautiful calligraphy with the word Ouhibuki (I love you).  She had tears in her eyes. Last time she heard this sentence was from the late Ib rahim. She hurridly opened the card. It was signed by Abdallah. Her heart sank. He also wrote “I have loved you since I opened my eyes on the world for the first time”.

There have been many debates about celebrating Valentine Day in the Arab world; mainly because of its association with Christian religion and commercial reasons. Yet this annual commemoration was deleted from the Roman calendar of saints in 1969 and different cultures from various ethnic backgrounds have adopted it.  In Finland it is a friend’s day, in Japan the women express their affections to their colleagues and loved ones and in the US valentine cards are also sent to teachers and family members.  There seems to be a universal need for people to remember their loved ones and Valentine day has been the answer since the 1800. I looked to see if there is anything similar in the Arab culture and couldn’t find any. Until we come up with our own version, it may be a good idea to celebrate the ones we love on that day. Even with a little gesture

by Grace Yacoub