It’s easy to dislike the consumerism and manufactured sentiment of Valentine’s Day (I know I do), but a recent move by Iran takes opposition to the February 14th holiday to a whole new level. Valentine’s Day, which has become increasingly popular in Middle Eastern countries, will be functionally banned in Iran this year, after the semiofficial news agency ILNA reported that a state directive prohibits all cards, teddy bears or other gifts.
Printing or producing any of these goods is illegal, and shops have been ordered not to sell them. Western news outlets (mostly the AP) have chalked the move up to the Iranian government’s desire to quash the spread of Western culture among their youth. And it’s not a new impulse: three years ago, Saudi Arabia asked all florists and gift shops to remove all red items until after Valentine’s Day, and Saudi officials sometimes raid stores to remove taboo items on the night of February 13th.
Another routinely raised objection is the fact that Valentine’s Day has Christian origins; tradition says that it’s named after an early Christian martyr (although it was removed from the Catholic General Roman calendar and relegated to local calendars in 1969).
The ban does make me realize, though, just how commercialized the holiday has become, if prohibiting decorations and consumer goods can destroy the “spirit” of Valentine’s Day. What do you think? Will this ban make a difference, and should the Iranian government bother curtailing Valentine’s Day celebrations?
Photo from Flickr.