Thursday,23 November, 2017
Current issue | Issue 1233, (12 - 18 February 2015)
Thursday,23 November, 2017
Issue 1233, (12 - 18 February 2015)

Ahram Weekly

Valentine’s Day, the Egyptian way

Ideas that will make you stand out from the crowd are all the rage this year. Egyptians of all ages spoke with Ameera Fouad about how they will be celebrating Valentine’s Day

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Al-Ahram Weekly

Whether you are buying a teddy bear, a box of chocolates, a bouquet of enchanting red roses or less traditional objects, such as Play Buzz or Google’s Chromecast, there are many ways to surprise your partner on Valentine’s Day.

If you are bored with the same old Tiffany gift box or the usual store-bought flowers, this year’s Valentine’s Day could be an excuse for a surprise that your loved one will never forget.

Enas Mohamed, 30, is newly married. How will she and her husband spend Valentine’s Day? Said Enas: “A cosy evening at home, a set of lavender-scented candles and a chocolate cake I will make myself. Of course my husband’s gift will be a Portal 2 as it is the most entertaining type of video game.”

Enas said her husband Ahmed loves videogames, and likes spending his evenings playing with friends at a nearby cyber café. “In order to avoid fighting with him for spending his time outside the home, I decided to encourage him to play his videogames inside instead,” said Enas.

“Ahmed is obsessed with XBox and PS3, so a Portal 2 comes next. That’s why my gift on our first Valentine’s Day will be a Portal 2, which I’m pretty sure he’ll love much more than the cosy atmosphere I’ll be creating for him at home.”

A 72-year-old grandfather has decided to change his Valentine’s Day routine this year. “For the last 40 years I have been taking my wife Mona to a concert and then we go to have dinner at Groppi’s or Delice,” said Kamal Fathi.

“When we were young we used to dance at Romance in Gleem in Alexandria until midnight. However, things changed as we got older.

“This year I am inviting her to the Bibliotheca Alexandrina Orchestra, as it will be playing special romantic songs on Valentine’s Day such as ‘Love Story’, ‘Sway’, ‘Beauty and the Beast’ and many more from the 1950s and 60s. Then we’ll go to Chez Gaby, the famous Alexandria pizza restaurant, to have our dinner there.”

A concert seems to be a popular option for Valentine’s Day, and was one chosen by a group of women who spoke to the Weekly. “Some of us are single, some of us are married, and some of us are widowed or divorced. But we all share the same notion that no one will make us happy better than ourselves,” said Hanaa Shabaan, a business owner in her late fifties.

“I have been married for more than 30 years, and my husband doesn’t believe in regenerating the feelings we had for each other long ago. I think that many Egyptian women my age feel the same. Egyptian men don’t want to go out. They like the sofa in the living room better than spending a romantic night out with their wives.

“That’s why we ladies go out on trips and parties together, even on Valentine’s. For the last four years we have been to a concert on Valentine’s Day where memories of the old songs revitalise our souls and bring us our youth again,” Shabaan said.

Ahmed is a 25-year-old accountant. Earlier this month he proposed to his girlfriend in the middle of a busy street in Alexandria. Holding a bouquet of red roses and surrounded by a group of smiling friends, Ahmed wanted to surprise, Rana, his beloved with an engagement before Valentine’s Day.

“I wanted the whole world to know how much I love her and that I would do everything just to make her happy. She is the love of my life,” Ahmed said.

Yasmine Baddar is a twelfth-grade International General Certificate of Secondary Education (IGCSE) student. “I love going out with my dad on Valentine’s Day,” she said. “He treats me as his little princess and invites me to dinner at my favourite restaurant and then we go to the cinema.”

Sales and special offers have been bombarding social media pages in the lead-up to Valentine’s Day. There are websites for personalised Valentine’s cards, and new groups have been created to post photographs about Valentine’s Day.

Egyptian humour has been doing its best to fill new pages with jokes about couples or singles on Valentine’s Day this year.

But there are also serious sentiments.

“Valentine’s Day is about love for humanity. I think the human race needs to spread love, not hatred and violence,” said Raya Al-Jadir, a writer and blogger. “I was planning to go with friends to see an exhibition of paintings by Syrian refugees. The idea that they were done by ordinary people whose lives have become quite extraordinary has encouraged me to go.”

Heba Mohamed is a 35-year-old teacher. As she said, “Like many Egyptians, I feel Valentine’s Day most through social media, through a call from an old friend, or through chocolates a colleague gives me at work.

“I love watching the florists showing off their products in a beautiful way. I love the gift shops with their colourful presents, like teddy bears and big blooming hearts. I believe the scent of the air is different on Valentine’s Day, like the scent of love that we are missing.”

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