Tongue-in-cheek “Anti-Valentine’s Day” parties are de rigueur in cities from Los Angeles to Singapore these days. But in some other parts of the world, opposition toward the holiday runs much deeper and is tangled up in politics, religion, and national identity.
A Marxist group called Kakumei-teki himote doumei (“Revolutionary Alliance of Men That Woman Are Not Attracted To”) is calling on supporters to march against the holiday in Tokyo’s Shibuya district. The group, founded in 2006 by a man named Katsuhiro Furusawa after he was dumped by his girlfriend states on its website: “The blood-soaked conspiracy of Valentine’s Day, driven by the oppressive chocolate capitalists, has arrived once again. In order to create a brighter future, we call for solidarity among our unloved comrades, so that we may demonstrate in resolute opposition to Valentine’s Day and the romantic industrial complex.”
Hindu Mahasabha, a Hindu nationalist group, has vowed to force impromptu weddings on unmarried couples that publicly display affection for each other on Feb. 14. The group’s goal is to educate the public “about what true love is and that a western festival should not be celebrated in the country, ” Chandra Prakash Kaushik, president of Hindu Mahasabha told the Times of India. “Display of love in the entire Valentine’s week is equivalent to not following Indian traditions. Anyone found displaying love on Facebook, Twitter or WhatsApp will be caught hold of,” he said. The group is dispatching teams to monitor social media as well as to patrol parks and shopping malls for unwed sweethearts.
A 2011 judgement from the Indonesian Ulema Council declared celebrations of Valentine’s Day are “opposed to Indonesian culture and religious norms.” The organization, which issued another warning last year against the holiday, believes Valentines Day encourages drinking, sex, and using drugs.
Some Malaysian critics see the holiday as an encroachment of Western values, while supporters view it as an innocent excuse to treat one’s loved one. “At the end of the day, all this arguments for or against it is just part of a much larger battle of ideologies to claim the soul of this country,” columnist Emmanuel Joseph wrote on the Malaysian Insider.
The Malaysian Islamic Development Department has been holding a “Mind the Valentine’s Day Trap” event since 2011, sending volunteers to approach young Muslims and remind them of the follies of celebrating the day. Last year, the Malaysian Islamic Development Department issued a sermon on Valentine’s Day, calling the holiday a kind of “colonization of the mind” that gives rise to a “mental disorder caused by alcohol, abortion and baby-dumping.”
Officials have urged teenage couples to visit temples on Valentine’s Day rather than consummate their love on the holiday. (In the past, many teens have seen the day as an opportune time to lose their virginity.) Thailand has one of the highest teenage pregnancy rates in Southeast Asia.
Religious police patrol stores warning shop owners not to sell chocolates, red roses, or anything that would support the celebration of the “infidel celebration.” Last year, five men were sentenced to prison and public lashings for holding a Valentine’s Day party with women.