When in KSA during Valentine’s Day
By Leslie Fiestan – Riyadh
Feb has arrived and Love is in the air, markets donned with flowers and mushy greeting cards, chocolates and stuff toys and heart shapes everywhere…BUT NOT IN THE KINGDOM OF SAUDI ARABIA.
You heard that right, it is forbidden to celebrate Valentines and any non-Islamic rituals/celebrations like Christmas, New Year and recently we read that even birthday celebrations are prohibited. I guess that’s another reason for people to think that were living in a strict and boring country.
Over here, when Feb 14 arrives, one has to be very discreet or just celebrate it another day. There are some rules we have to follow on V-day, so if you are in Saudi don’t get caught bringing, having, or doing any of the following in public:
1. No flowers. Don’t buy anything in bloom, I heard even if you are buying it for sick relatives or friends
2. Don’t buy or send gifts and teddy bears.
3. Don’t wear red
4. No hearts (don’t display or wear or show anything that’s shaped like a heart)
5. No public display of affection (well, it’s not allowed anytime, anywhere anyway, even if it’s just holding hands)
Break the rules and you’re bound to stay in jail for the night if the religious police catch you. Ergo, better be safe than sorry.
So, what do we do during this time of the month, for those who can’t help it and really want to celebrate, they would opt to go out of the country for a short vacation. While most either celebrate it in the privacy of their own homes or have a quiet dinner in the restaurants, but take note, you can’t go out (in public) for a date or hang out with your partner unless you are married.
Its crazy I know, but we have to respect the rules of the country. There are plenty of other ways to show love and I think love should always be celebrated and felt everyday and not just on Valentine’s day.