Despite clashes and protests that have recently transpired in Egypt, sales on flowers and chocolates are set to hit the streets as the country prepares to celebrate Valentine’s Day on Sunday.
Besides celebrating “hearts day” on its international date every February 14th, the Egyptians have been celebrating the 4th of November as Valentine’s Day since the 1950s.
According to Egyptian media reports, the Egyptian Valentine’s date was set by two brothers, Mustafa and Ali Amin, who are both writers and founders of the publishing house Akhbar al-Youm.
Mohammed Arafa, a history professor, explained that Ali Amin was the first to ask his readers through poll published in his daily newspaper column when is the perfect date to celebrate Valentine’s Day.
“[Amin] accordingly asked for their choice of a specific date for Valentine's Day and they chose November 4th of each year,” said Arafa, as quoted by al-Shorfa website.
Writing for a column and asking for dates on when to celebrate such holidays as Mother’s Day and Father’s Day has been a part of the brothers’ habit, added the professor.
However, Cairo University Sociology Professor Bassema Hosni said the holiday that has been celebrated in the country for decades is still being viewed as a taboo.
“Some people misunderstand this holiday and believe it promotes forbidden relations between young men and women, forgetting that the expression of love is not limited to single men and women,” Hosni said to al-Shorfa, adding that it has become “unavoidable” to celebrate the special day as social networking sites have been widely promoting Valentine’s Day.
Cairo Chamber of Commerce member Yahya al-Sayyed expects this year’s sales will rise up to around 60 million pounds ($10 million) as he describes Egypt calmer compared to last year.
“Souvenir shops have become quite aware of Valentine’s Day’s significance, and thus gear most of their inventory towards meeting customers’ demands on this occasion,” he said as quoted by the news site.
Vendors will be selling roses with prices ranging from five pounds ($0.82) to 50 pounds ($8.20) and stuffed bears (dabadeeb) priced between 20 pounds ($3.30) to 500 pounds ($82) depending on the size and quality.
Souvenir shops are also expected to meet popular-demand on boxed chocolates as couples are expected to exchange gifts with one another.
Nobody really knows how and when Valentine’s Day turned out to be the day of love, however a report from The Telegraph chronicled events related to the special holiday.
According to the report, during the pre-Christian era, February 13, 14, and 15 were days celebrated for a pagan fertility festival called Lupercalia in ancient Rome till a pope officially declared the 14th of February as Valentine’s Day as a Christian feast day in 496AD.