Newly-married couple on a shore
Valentine’s Day celebrations come in all shapes and colours around the world, and it is no surprise that—like everything else that we do—Egyptians put a different spin on V-Day. From friendly celebrations and family gatherings, to a romantic night out or a dinner date with someone special, everyday Egyptians tell Egypt Today about what Valentine’s Day means to them and how they celebrate.
Reda Anwar, 65
Valentine’s Day for me is a day to celebrate the women in my life: My wife and my two daughters. We live in an era where technology has taken over and the increase of communication channels has somehow managed to dig a trench between individuals; the increasing amount of people you talk to everyday has led one to forget to show their loved ones that they really care. So, it is important to but the hustle and bustle of life aside and celebrate your love for each other. On Valentine’s Day, we, as a family, put everything aside and enjoy each other’s company.
In the morning, we have breakfast together as a family and we talk about everyday issues, and then I have lunch with my girls and wife, and then we spend the remainder of the evening talking and teasing each other. We tend to walk down memory lane as a family and reminisce about what my wife and I used to do in the good old days. I end up telling them stories that I have told them time and time again, but they still listen. The most important thing for us is to engage on Valentine’s Day. It is our day to just forget about everything outside and talk to each other. Of course, I do buy my wife and two girls gifts in celebration of the day.
Linda Abdelaal, 53
Valentine’s Day for me is like any other day of the year. I do not do anything special on that day or celebrate. Given that I am single and not looking to date anyone in the near future, Valentine’s Day is one of the days that reminds me that I am single and do not wish to meet someone or become part of a culture that pushes women to act out and to dress in a certain way or eat certain foods to gain the attention and affection of men.
This Valentine’s Day, like any other one, I will be spending the day at home with my father, and will be watching TV alone. I will probably go on to spend an hour or so reading a novel and drinking some tea. The worst thing that I have to go through every Valentine’s Day is the annoying, demeaning, and often embarrassing, comments from my friends and family. I am tired of people telling me, “Don’t worry, next Valentine’s Day you will be celebrating with someone special,” or trying to set me up with dates or offering to set me up on a blind date. I feel that this day is just a reminder for me that people around me do not appreciate my decision to stay single.
Mohamed Khaled, 39
I have been married for about 14 years now and have a 12-year-old girl and a nine-year-old boy. On Valentine’s Day, my wife and I make sure to include our children in our celebration, and we celebrate in the next evening by going out on our own.
Right now, my daughter is at a delicate age where her friends are starting to date and they are staring to develop crushes and feelings for others, and it is important for me to make sure that she feels that she is loved and that she does not need to resort to a boy in order to be with someone on Valentine’s Day. It is a father’s role to teach his daughter that she does not need a man to make her happy and that she can be happy with others; life is not all about being in a relationship and she surely does not need to be in one to feel loved, validated or accomplished. Gone are the days when women needed men to do things or to guide them, and my daughter needs to know this and act on it. So, February 14 for me is all about making my girl feel loved and happy; it is about building her up to be a strong women, just like her mother.
Rana Heshmat, 36
It’s a day for my husband and I—no kids, no work, no nothing. We take the day off and we just spend it together. It is our time to forget about the world; we usually drop the kids off to their grandparents the night before and enjoy each other’s company. The night before, I usually spend time decorating the whole house with balloons, paper hearts and different things. Then, I bake a heart-shaped cake or some cookies that I decorate with red icing for the next day.
Then, on the day, we sleep in and then my husband brings me breakfast in bed, and, we attempt to speak about our kids, our year, our love for each other, but, we usually end up wanting to play video games—we both used to love playing video games but we don’t have that much time for it since we have a seven-year-old and a three-year-old. We then often look at old photo albums from when we used to be in university and this leads us to much more banter and laughs, and we snack until about 6 p.m., and then we get up to make dinner together. We usually then have a candle-lit dinner followed by watching a movie with popcorn and chocolate.
I guess if I had to sum it all up, Valentine’s Day for my husband and me is a day to forget about the kids, life and all the hardship that we went through the years, and just focus on the two of us together. We go back to the basics: The two of us.
Mohamed Aly, 29
It’s all about making my girlfriend and partner feel special. I have been with my girl for about eight months now and we try to make each other feel as loved as we possibly can by celebrating the little things and standing by each other in the face of hardship.
Valentine’s is about expressing my love for her and showing her that I truly care about her by dedicating an entire day to love. Recently, we were talking to each other and we realised that we had forgotten all about Valentine’s Day and that we should—as society often pushes us—celebrate, to which we both replied simultaneously, “We treat everyday like Valentine’s anyway.” This is not to say that we will not celebrate, but to us, we already try to show each other how much we care about one another every day and we work to make ourselves each other’s safe zone. So, on the day, I will be buying flowers, chocolate from her favourite shop and a couple of books that she had her eyes on, and will be treating her to a romantic dinner in a restaurant she has been wanting to try.
On Valentine’s Day, it is important to express your love to one another, even if you do this everyday, because feeling that others do and that you do not could resonate on your relationship.
Carol Michael, 28
Valentine’s Day is a day to express my love for the people around me. I celebrate my friends, family and fiancé. In the morning, I go to work as usual, and then I meet with my girl friends briefly for lunch; we have had this tradition for a few years now. We began this tradition when we were all single and then a couple of us started dated and the rest were single and we felt that in order for us to support each other, we need to continue this tradition. Now, we are all either dating, having a fiancé or are married and we still have lunch with each other ever Valentine’s Day to remind ourselves that guys come and go but friends—real friends—stay.
I then go out with my fiancé for dinner. I do not like how busy the streets are on the day but I feel that we need to celebrate; we need to show our love to the world and to each other. We go out for a quick dinner and, like we have done for six years now, this is the sixth year, we go for a stroll on the banks of the Nile River and buy sweet potatoes or corn. It is so beautiful at night. We walks around, recalling our university days, when we didn’t have much money and would typically spend our nights out together walking along the Nile River.
Abdullah Salah, 23
I work in event management and so Valentine’s Day is a heavy-work day for us; every holiday is important to us, that is when we work most. This means that I have to celebrate Valentine’s Day with my girlfriend in the morning because I will be working in the evening. If I am being completely honest, Valentine’s Day is not at all important to me. I do not care for it. I do not get the idea of dedicating a day to show someone that I love them. If I love them everyday, why should I spend money and buy a gift on a specific day to show them this? My actions should be showing her this year-round.
That being said, my girlfriend of four years does like to be treated, pampered and feel loved; she also has friends who celebrate, so if we do not celebrate, she will not be very happy with me. To show her that she is loved, I often make her a gift for V-Day. Last year, I made her a wooden lantern and the year before I made her a multi-layer make-up box that has lights on the side. I am pretty good at making things out of wood and I know she likes it when I spend time on her gifts; that’s why I also try to make her something for Valentine’s Day and then by her a gift on her actual birthday. Basically, the day is about work and making my girlfriend happy.
Fatma El-Bakry, 22
In my opinion, Valentine’s Day is not limited for lovers instead it’s a call for love where all people should reveal their emotions to their lovers.
Being single since I was born; I used to have distinct customs and habits on that day. I buy lots of presents to all my close friends and family members. I feel a need to express my gratitude and thanks to all of them for their sustainable support in hard times, giving me a hand and being my special consultants who always reckon. I usually hang out with my friends, cruising in streets at night aimlessly, cheering up, listening to our favorite music and songs and talking loudly at the same time. We eat all our favorite delicious food that do not go together. We eat Sushi with Caesar Salad and pizza, ending with lots of candy and chocolates. It is ok if we add to that one or two—sometimes three—slices of tart in our already-fully belly.
I also feel the need to have a new haircut and new hair style. For instance, last year I turned some strands of my hair into blue. Yes, definitely mum screamed, “damn you!” Yet it was a new experience I really enjoyed it. The day would not end without going to a spa, undergoing a journey of relaxation and serenity purging all stress and tension away. Finally, I return home, take a shower and stare at mirror, repeating, “I am so beautiful and lovely; guys are idiots and blind.” Before going to bed I pray to God thanking Him on all his graces. I kiss and hug mom and dad, thanking them for their endless love and understanding. Then I go to bed and dream of Paradise.
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