You are probably wondering why the streets today are full of roses and teddy bears. Why is everything in red? Are we in February already? The pandemic sure managed to blur all months together, but not to this extent, right? are all questions going through our heads right now.
But no need to panic!
You didn’t forget to buy your significant other a present, and sure enough, our sorry single asses will not be hating every young couple we run into today.
Because today is not your regular Valentine’s, it is the Egyptian Valentine’s Day!
Egyptians celebrate a second valentine on the 4th of November of each year. This one, however, is dedicated to celebrating your love not only towards your partner but also to all your loved ones and your community as well, from family, friends, and neighbors to spiritual or patriotic love. Thus, it is a celebration of love as a broader concept and in its higher and deeper meaning.
Finding hope amid sadness: A funeral inspired it all
It all started when renowned Egyptian journalist and writer Mostafa Amin pitched the idea in his articles. However, sources differ when we started celebrating it, with some saying in 1974 and others in 1988.
Mostafa Amin was walking in Cairo’s downtown streets when he encountered a funeral with only three people paying tribute. This was very surprising to him, as Egyptians are known for their spirituality and emotional nature. People sometimes walk in funerals of people they don’t even know, just as a way to pay respect spiritually and show solidarity. So when he asked the reason, he learned that this was a funeral of a man who didn’t love anyone and no one loved him back. Amin then decided to draw on his experience and invite people to take a day to remember all the lost ties and reconnect with loved ones.
And this is why we celebrate Egyptian valentine!
Mostafa and Ali Amin: Fathers of modern Arab journalism:
Who is Mostafa Amin, you may ask? Mostafa and twin brother Ali Amin are some of the most reputable Arab journalists and columnists. They are most famous for founding the daily newspaper Al Akhbar (“The News”) and are dubbed “the fathers of modern Arab journalism.” Mostafa Amin was known for his advocacy for a free press and free speech and was jailed multiple times for his criticisms.
So as one of many of Amin’s influences on Egyptian culture, today we celebrate valentine as a reminder to strengthen ties with our communities. But, unfortunately, The 14th of February has become more commercialized and turned into another outlet to over-consume and spend money or show-off, rather than celebrating bonds that can get lost in the stressful lives we lead.
As you go by your day today, remember to spread some love and positive energy. Recently, Egyptians can sure use some.