February is the love month of the year, where flowers, chocolates, and most especially a romantic or friendly date with your special someone can be seen from both young and old. But, not everybody enjoys this beautiful occasion. In fact, some countries even banned such events; why and where? Find out here!
Valentine’s day is a celebration with displays of romance and affection for centuries in some Western nations. Other Eastern countries have also adapted some of the practices.
This day marks the feast day of St. Valentine, a Christian martyr, and celebrating it is actually taboo or even illegal in some countries.
National Geographic compiled the list of nations that ban, discourages, and considered Valentine’s day to be downright dangerous.
India is extreme in protesting the celebration of Valentine’s Day. To the point, that radical Hindu nationalists will threaten couples who celebrate the Western occasion, as they will cut their hair or even blacken their faces.
National Geographic said, “a notable anti-Valentine campaign focused on social media platforms, where 518 million Indians were estimated to be active as of 2020.”
In 2015, people who made public displays of love on social media for Valentine’s Day are threatened by a fringe far-right Hindu political party to marry. What’s worse, they’ll even force impromptu nuptials too for those celebrating it in public.
A sign of immorality, “anti-cultural,” and Western decadence, that’s how Iran branded Valentine’s Day. Religious authorities even asked the public for help to prosecute those who celebrate the occasion in defiance of strict religious laws.
In exchange for Valentine’s Day, Islamic hardliners now encourage observing an ancient Iranian holiday, Sepandārmazgān, a Persian day of love honoring Spandarmad, a Zoroastrian deity representing a loving wife, due to the growing popularity of the once-a-year occasion.
Some Iranians still celebrate Valentine’s Day secretly though regardless of the ban of production and sale of Valentine’s cards and other trinkets.
Mass arrests are rampant whenever religious authorities suspect couples of celebrating this occasion.
Valentine’s day is banned because it had “elements of Christianity,” as Malaysia’s Fatwa Council declared in 2005. Christian groups even tried to persuade the council to reconsider since there is little connection between modern Valentine’s Day and Christianity; sadly, the ban persisted.
The BBC once reported that Valentine’s is synonymous “with vice activities.”
Saudi Arabia bans the celebration of Valentine’s Day since it is antithetical to Islamic notions of propriety. It’ll be bad news if the nation’s religious police catch you embracing the day as you’ll be arrested. They also prevent shop owners from selling Valentine’s Day goods.
But even so, some people still face the risk to exchanged gifts and flowers in February.
Thankfully, it all changed five years ago when Saudi Arabia’s crown prince Mohammad bin Salman stripped the nation’s Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, a department once charged with enforcing strict religious norms, of many of its powers in 2016.
Another nation where Valentine’s Day is highly discouraged. National Geographic says in 2016, the former Pakistan President, Mamnoon Hussain, told a gathering of mainly female students that the holiday “has no connection with our culture.”
Due to that, an edict was issued to take away all traces of Valentine’s Day from public spaces. Moreover, merchandise, advertising, or promotion of the holiday in the media were also banned.
However, for some Pakistanis, love is above the law, as they search for ways to get flowers and give loving gifts to their partners for the occasion, although most do it secretly.
“People are still going to go out and do their thing and have fun — maybe just in different ways,” one scofflaw who planned to make his wife a romantic breakfast on February 14 told the New York Times in 2018. “You can’t ban love.”