Life is not all about work and business. Leisure, celebrations, time for ourselves, are all needed for a happier life. That’s why today, on Valentine’s Day, we’re neither talking about outstanding business in Africa nor what can you do to improve them, but about how they celebrate the lover’s day across the world’s largest continent.
The truth is that it’s probable that many of us have never give it a thought. We might have taken for granted the flowers, chocolates, teddy bears and romantic dinners to celebrate it because that’s what we’re used to in most of the UK. But, it happens to be, that it’s not like that. Different cultures and countries have their own way to commemorate the love that couples share.
That’s easy to figure out. On the internet, you’ll find loads of articles that will tell you stories about how the tradition loterie d’amour (drawing for love) was banned in France or how in Philippines mass weddings ceremonies have become very popular during Valentine’s Day. Also, about how in Denmark women can receive funny poems or why Wales or Brazil celebrate this day on January and June respectively. However, besides the South African way to let men know their secret admirers, there is not much information about how other African countries celebrate Valentine’s Day, or even if they even celebrate it or not.
That’s why we decided to ask our team in Ghana, Uganda, Zambia and Rwanda about their traditions on this date.
Valentine’s Day in Ghana
Happens to be that in this country Valentine’s Day is massively celebrated. Actually it is one of the most celebrated feasts, just surpassed by the Christian festivities of Christmas and Easter. The emphasis is on couple love, where ladies measure if they are really the #1 for their partner (if they’re not asked out, the inquiries start. So maybe better not to take that risk). Dressing red or giving flowers are not part of the tradition. As you might expect there is a boost in the sale of contraceptives around this time.
Valentine’s Day in Liberia
Valentine’s Day, is a pretty big deal in Liberia. Everyone celebrates it here in Monrovia. Vendors were pushing wheelbarrows filled with misspelled Valentine’s Day cards and teddy bears. Gigantic red stuffed feet were displayed in store windows (I think they were supposed to be hearts. Love’s in the air. Couples can celebrated Valentine’s Day at the Palm Spring Casino’s restaurant, too. It’s one of five “nice” restaurants in Monrovia. Palm Spring has the best hummus though. The restaurant went all out for Valentine’s Day: mood lighting, silk red roses, helium balloons and confetti. Very festive.
Valentine’s Day in Rwanda
In this country, this celebration does not follow a special African way. Going out for movie nights or dinner, as well as enjoying the special offers that business make for this day are very common activities among young couples. Also, to keep the meaning and substance of this day, the exchange of gifts between lovers cannot be ignored.
Valentine’s Day in Uganda
Here we continue with the western influence, so they celebrate in a very similar way to the UK. In this sense, Ugandans buy their loved ones’ flowers and/or chocolates, or they can also go out for a nice meal. Valentine’s promotions are all over the place, from shops to hotels and restaurants that want to be part of this celebration. Also, the red and black colours are important when dressing, especially in Kampala, just to mark the day.
Valentine’s Day in Zambia
Some people make a big deal about Valentine’s Day, some others don’t. However, shops, restaurants and streets accompany those who like to celebrate it with red, white and black decoration items. Like the others countries we’ve talked about, big sales and dinners are an important part of this celebration. However, if you don’t have a partner you don’t have to celebrate alone because affection is not only for couples. That’s why in Zambia is also common that friends and family get together to show affection to each other.
Valentine’s Day in many African countries does not differ that much from what we’re used to. It is being celebrated more and more every year. This could be a sign of globalization and the increased exposure of young people to this western festival. As more people celebrate, of course consumption goes up. So it doesn’t matter on which continent you are, the environmental impacts that this celebration has are the same. That’s why now we invite you to read and learn about how to celebrate the lovers’ day in a sustainable way. By Mariana Cover
Main Photo: Challengesworldwide.com