BEIRUT: Lights are dim, flowers are delicately displayed on the tables, special heart menus are being distributed, and it’s Valentine’s Day in Beirut. The real question is, does anyone actually enjoy it?
For couple’s, it means added pressure to meet a certain set of standards, for single people, on the other hand, it’s a reminder that they are not in a relationship, and it’s probably the worst holiday for the people with an "it’s complicated status."
Nowadays, Valentine’s Day festivities have branched out from merely being a couples' event -- singles celebrate it too. For instance, if you scoped the restaurants on February 14th, almost half the tables are filled with groups of single friends celebrating this holiday together. Bars and nightclubs around the city are even taking advantage of the single status by throwing "come mingle if you’re single’" Valentine’s Day events, giving a chance for singles to find love on the most love-hyped holiday of the year.
Browsing the local scene, Annahar gathered some reactions across Lebanon, with Mohamad Attar saying that "every day is Valentine’s Day," before adding that "today I'm taking the extra step and we will have a clichéd romantic date in Rawshe."
Meanwhile, Noura Hamdan said she and her husband "stayed in and had a nice home-made lunch together," while Narjis Yatim noted how he and his girlfriend "watched a romantic comedy on DVD and then ordered Chinese takeaway."
Internationally, the boundaries of consumerism have been extended to "Alibaba’s Single’s Day" - a massive sales holiday, birthed in China, which grossed 27 billion dollars last year. The sales day promotes shopping by offering tempting sales, similar to Black Friday. In comparison, Valentine’s Day 2017 grossed 20 billion dollars.
During Single’s Day, singles buy items under the illusion that they are splurging to celebrate their lack of commitment and freedom. Similarly, Valentine’s Day is confined with restaurant and hotel reservations; forcing couples to splurge in celebration of their relationship status. If a partner doesn’t spend a certain amount of money they will immediately be ostracized for not caring enough.
Singletons seemed to rule much of the day in Beirut.
Anonymous single celebrators shared with Annahar how they spent their valentines:
"I watched a documentary."
"Stayed home, had lunch, went to a board meeting and drank. Valentine’s Day is disgusting and I hate it!"
"I went for a cruise, put music on highest possible volume, screamed, and bought myself ice cream."
Sound familiar Singletons?
Student Lyn El Jbeilly, said, “I was studying my Heart out!”
Valentine’s Day is originally a holiday celebrating St. Valentine, who was imprisoned for conducting weddings for soldiers, who were prohibited to marry, and for ministering to Christians persecuted under the Roman Empire.
According to legend, during his imprisonment St. Valentine restored vision to the blind daughter of his judge and before his execution; he wrote her a letter signed "Your Valentine" as a farewell.
Indeed, this holiday does have love at the heart of it, even if there is much that is consumer driven. If anything, Valentine’s Day still can remind one to enjoy time with their friends, partners, and family members every once in a while.
An-Nahar is not responsible for the comments that users post below. We kindly ask you to keep this space a clean and respectful forum for discussion.