Millions will celebrate Valentine’s Day, except in countries where it’s banned or discouraged


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Millions will celebrate Valentine's Day, except in countries where it's banned or discouraged

Millions will celebrate Valentine’s Day, except in countries where it’s banned or discouraged

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Millions will celebrate Valentine's Day, except in countries where it's banned or discouraged

A Palestinian walks past a red bear displayed outside a store on Valentine’s Day in Ramallah, the West Bank, on Monday.Photo by Debbie Hill/UPI | License Photo

February 14 (UPI) – Tens of millions of people will celebrate Valentine’s Day on Monday, the day when most of the world celebrates romance – but religious and cultural differences mean a few countries ban the holiday.

Pope Grasius is thought to have officially instituted Valentine’s Day in honor of St. Valentine in Rome, a priest who was martyred in 269 and is said to have secretly married a Roman soldier and restored sight to the jailer’s daughter, and sent her a letter Signed letter “Your Lover” before his execution.

Throughout history, the festival began to be more uniquely associated with themes of love and romance, including in the UK, where the festival was associated with spring lovebirds.

Despite its changing nature, some countries – many predominantly Muslim and Hindu – have attempted to cancel the celebration due to its Christian origins and some moral objections.

Here are five countries where Valentine’s Day is banned or at least unpopular:

People on a beach in Penang, Malaysia.File photo of Stephen Shaver/UPI

Malaysia

In Malaysia, where about 60 percent of the population is Muslim, the National Fatwa Council began banning the festival in 2005, saying it had “Christian elements”.

The committee also linked the holiday to abortion, drinking and other activities it believes lead to moral turmoil — especially among young people.

Christian groups are urging the council to reconsider, saying there is little connection between modern Valentine’s Day and Christianity.

However, the ban remains in place and the celebrating couple could face penalties, including arrest.

An Iranian woman walks past an anti-American painting on the wall of the former U.S. embassy in Tehran, Iran. File photo of Abedin Taherkenareh/EPA-EFE

Iran

In 2011, the Middle Eastern and Muslim-majority country banned the production of all goods and gifts related to Valentine’s Day and banned the promotion of any day celebrating romantic love, seen as a sign of immorality and the spread of Western culture.

A pair of ancient festivals actually replaced Valentine’s Day in Iran.

Sepandarmazgan on February 23 is known as Persian Love Day in honor of Spandarmand, a Zoroastrian god who represented a loving wife.

The other is the Mehrgan Festival, which takes place in early October. It celebrates the concept of Mehr, which can mean friendship, love and affection.

Uzbekistan, a landlocked country in Central Asia, is a breakaway state that declared independence in 1991 after the collapse of the Soviet Union.File photo by Richard Tomkins/UPI

Uzbekistan

The former Soviet republic has allowed Valentine’s Day to be celebrated for years, but its Education Ministry’s Enlightenment and Values ​​Promotion Division issued an internal decree a decade ago banning the celebration of holidays “incompatible with our culture.”

Valentine’s Day celebrations are not illegal in the country, but the country prefers to celebrate Babur, the Mughal emperor and descendant of Genghis Khan, who was born on February 14.

Uzbekistan is a secular country, but most of its citizens are Muslims.

Five years ago, Pakistan’s High Court moved to discourage citizens from celebrating Valentine’s Day. File photo by Shahzaib Akber/EPA

Pakistan

Home to the world’s largest Muslim population, Pakistan banned any celebrations, media coverage or references to Valentine’s Day in 2017 following a petition to the Islamabad High Court.

The main reason for this move is because Valentine’s Day is an import of Western culture and goes against the teachings of Islam.

A year ago, then-President Mamnoon Hussein called on Pakistanis to avoid Valentine’s Day, saying it “has nothing to do with our culture”.

The decision wasn’t well received among florists and college students, and some still celebrated the holiday in secret.

Citizens hold national flags during a demonstration in central Jakarta, Indonesia. UPI Photos/Files

India and Indonesia

Valentine’s Day has not been banned in India or Indonesia, but it has been boycotted by radical religious groups in both countries.

In India, Hindu nationalists protested the festival while threatening and attacking couples celebrating – including cutting their hair or painting their faces black.

Some groups have campaigned against Valentine’s Day on social media, and in 2015 a far-right Hindu party threatened to force people to show their love publicly on social media on February 14.

A 2012 ruling by the Supreme Islamic Council – declaring Valentine’s Day contradicts Muslim culture and teachings – led to a small ban on the festival in the Indonesian cities of Surabaya and Makassar, and an outright ban in Bando Aceh.

However, the rest of the country still celebrates the festival and celebrates it openly in the capital, Jakarta.

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