Just about every news outlet is compiling a list of the most romantic Valentine’s Day destinations, but what about those of us whose only serious relationship is the one they have with deep-fried chicken?
I could not find a single such list, so I decided to do humanity a favour and create one. Are you dreaming of a non-pink, love-free Valentine’s Day? You’re in luck because several world governments wholeheartedly agree.
Before you start planning a scathing 140-character take-down of the holiday, consider moving to a Valentine-less destination of your choosing. These are my picks for the ten least romantic Valentine’s Day destinations.
1. Osh, Kyrgyzstan
Officials in this lovely city decided to ban Valentine’s Day because they believe “the holiday of love is a bad influence on children’s morality”. A member of Kyrgyzstan’s parliament even called the celebration a “holiday from the devil”. While I’m not sure we’d get along, these are exactly the type of people I feel comfortable spending Valentine’s Day with.
2. Lombok, Indonesia
It should come that the biggest predominantly Muslim country in the world decided to ban what it calls a “sex holiday”. I don’t understand their association of Valentine’s Day and sex. For me, it just means stretchy sweatpants, litres of tequila and empty KFC buckets. But to each their own – or better yet none at all.
3. Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
In 2012, a number of happy Muslim couples were arrested for the crime of “close proximity”, which is punishable by jail-time. I disagree with such rules 364 days in a year, but Valentine’s Day is not one of them.
4. Isfahan, Iran
Three years ago, Iranian officials warned citizens that “symbols of hearts, half-hearts, red roses and activities promoting this day are banned.” And the list goes on – it includes “rap music, rock music, Western music, women playing in bands, too-bring nail polish, laughter in hospital corridors, ancient Persian rites-of-spring celebrations (Nowrooz), and even the mention of foreign food recipes in state media”. BRB – I’m just going to remove my neon pink nail polish and book a flight.
5. Agra, India
Although Valentine’s Day is not officially banned in India, Hindu hardliners are protesting the holiday. “We are deadly against Valentine’s Day. We are for civilized love and affection,” one of them said. Why stop there, I ask? Let’s be deadly against love and affection, too!
6. Belgorod, Russia
Spiritual security was cited as the main reason for banning the Western holiday in Russia’s Belgorod province. The officials did not elaborate on what that meant, but the governor’s spokesman said that “we could just as well have introduced a Vodka Day”. I’m not sure what that means either, but it sounds great. Can we all agree to just celebrate Vodka Day instead?
7. Islamabad, Pakistan
In Pakistan, authorities forbade media outlets to broadcast romance-themed content. That’s right – somewhere out there, people are getting through Valentine’s Day without having to watch Kate Hudson romcoms and flower delivery ads.
8. Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia does not mess around. Thought heart-shaped merchandise was bad? How about just banning all things red? I feel a little sad for all my temporarily illegal ginger friends, but not sad enough.
9. Harwinton, United States of America
Everyone is talking about a school in Connecticut which decided to replace sweets and parties with academic activities and what it deems “healthy snacks” as if it was the end of the world. Cheer up! American schools think pizza is a vegetable, so you will have carbs to drown your sorrows in aplenty – and no one reminding you of your misery in the first place.
10. Bukhara, Uzbekistan
Turns out we have nothing to worry about – Uzbek politicians cancelled Valentine’s Day. It’s official, too – several universities made their students sign a contract confirming that they will not participate in celebrating the holiday.
Which of these destinations will you choose to sit at home, drink a bottle of Pinot Noir by yourself and complain about your nonexistent love life to the characters in Titanic? Oh wait, give me that red wine – it’s outlawed in Saudi Arabia. And Titanic? What would Pakistani officials say? These ridiculous bans should serve as a reminder that even our ability to whine about Valentine’s Day is a huge privilege. So embrace it and publish that poignant Tweet about sickeningly happy couples. Or just raise your eyebrows and get on with your life – if there’s one thing these oppressive governments got right, it’s the fact that a commercial holiday has nothing to do with being in love.
How do you feel about Valentine’s Day? Love it or hate it? Where will you be celebrating it – or not celebrating it – this year?
Main photo via Angelo Domini, second via taufuuu. Osh via eatswords, Lombok via Fadil Basymeleh, Kuala Lumpur via Jakub Michankow, Isfahan via Xiquinho Silva, Agra via Travel Aficionado, Belgorod via Alexander Saprykin, Islamabad via Arsalan Asad, Jeddah via Elias Pirasteh, Harwinton via Doug Kerr and Bukhara via whltravel.