A Valentines Day Fadfedah and/or Rant

Did you know more roses are sold in Jordan on Valentine’s Day than on any other day of the year, including Mother’s Day?

Am I the only one who is anti-Valentines? No seriously, this isn’t about love or lack there of. It’s about culture. Since when did we start living in a society (to be more specific: a city) that celebrates one of the stupidest occasions I’ve ever heard of. No one remembers when The Prophet’s birthday is. No one remembers when the 2 Eids are or what day is our Independence Day unless someone reminds them and that reminder usually comes in the form of a “Hey! Tomorrow’s a frikin holiday everyone!”. Seriously, ask yourself. What day did Jordan gain it’s independence? Then ask yourself what day is Valentines. If you can’t remember the former or not remember it quick enough, then something is seriously wrong here.

I’m not going to make one of those arguments about “we don’t need a day to show our love, it should be everyday”. This is about culture people. The preservation of whatever it is we have left that has not been completely destroyed by goliath western machines that go by the name of “Hallmark” and “Hersheys”.

If this was a day celebrated by a husband and wife, ok, maybe. Although I’m guessing more people will remember Valentines Day and forget their own anniversaries but that’s another story.

What gets to me is that this is being pushed on kids like a drug. In my old high school there were the stupidest things ever. Kids buying roses to send to someone they loved. A rose for 1 JD! (probably more now if we want to add the school’s profit)

There are so many screwed up things in our society and instead of solving them we are simply adding to the mess. It’s not that love is a concept that is taboo in Jordan, but in a traditional society the concept is kept sacred between a husband and wife; not a boyfriend and girlfriend and not between teenagers.

What also gets to me is that in the west for example Valentines is pushed by the industry. In Jordan there is no industry! It’s actually the people enforcing it.

But what really really gets to me is that Valentines in such a small time span has managed to trump nearly all other occasions which are much more essential to our national identity, our religion, our traditions. But no one cares. Because after all Valentines is just “sooooo American” and therefore “sooooo cool”. And if you want to be thought of as cool, and Americanized, Westernized, therefore civilized and modern…well you’ve just GOT to celebrate Valentines.

And of course the Shmisani kids and Abdoun kids reading this post are saying to themselves…gosh that Naseem, he’s just so ultra-conservative and rigid and a fanatic Muslim. The fact is, I really don’t give a shit. I really don’t. Because this entire holiday is supported by such a tiny minority who think that being civilized and modern and hip, involves love, sex, fashion, absurd pop-culture and not education, not tradition, not our own culture. And it’s sad because our culture is just so damn rich, so much more than all the western countries combined. But instead we’ve decided to import what they’ve got and destroy our fore fathers created. And it is just so sad.

Why is Naseem being so dramatic over some holiday? Why doesn’t Naseem just ignore it and let people do what they want? Because Naseem sees Valentines as a virus, one of many that is eroding the very cultural foundations of which our own civilization has stood upon for centuries. And Naseem knows that even the smallest of things, as small as a termite, can have those foundation come crumbling down in no time.

Think about it. Religion, Identity, Family…any occasion related to those 3 things is now over run by Valentines. Those 3 things which identify any Jordanian, any Arab, the most.

I am betting my entire life savings (which as of today stands at around $1.65) that in a few years Thanksgiving will be celebrated in Jordan. I actually left my high school selling turkey sandwiches so it’s not that far fetched.

Ah yes, Thanksgiving. The day the Arabs sat down with the Native Indians to share a feast before they killed them off with small pox and gave the rest of them casinos. Who can forget that important part of our history?


  • I cracked up at the end of your post! Too funny.

    Look, I’ll admit to being American, and I’ll also admit it’s kind of a Hallmark Holiday — denoting that it’s basically pushed by candy and greeting card companies. I feel the same way about Mother’s day, etc.

    However — I try to stay good natured about it — it gives my teenaged kids an opportunity to give a card to kids they like. Gives the shy kids a chance to take advantage of a holiday to actually talk to somebody they’ve been too bashful to approach. I’m bewildered though, about it being pushed on Arab cultures!

    I’ve been too intense over at my own blog; thanks for the sanity break!

  • Arab Revolution was on June 10th 1916
    British Occupation started 1920
    Jordan was founded 1921
    Our independence day was on May 25th 1946
    Late King Hussein claimed the throne on May 2nd 1953
    The day the Army was pure Arab was on March 16th 1956
    Al Karama was on March 21st 1968

    I know these dates as a large percentage of Jordanians do.
    I am with you that these intrusive occasions are becoming too much especially for the young generations, but I don’t blame them; I blame their parents and their teachers who don’t feed them the right information that they should know …
    I remember when I was in school; we used to prepare speeches for the abovementioned memorials and we used to celebrate them with passion and patriotic pride. Ehhh .. times have truly changed …

  • “Ah yes, Thanksgiving. The day the Arabs sat down with the Native Indians to share a feast before they killed them off with small pox and gave the rest of them casinos. Who can forget that important part of our history?”

    loooooooool you’re hilarious!

    Yea I agree with you.

  • Haha, take this from a Shmesani kid, Valentine sucks man! It’s a stupid holiday- the only day of the year where I make SURE that I’m NOT wearing anything that is red 😛
    But you’re over analyzing things 😉

  • Laith, deep down we all are bro 😀

    Caren, Don’t take this post as anti-American-culture ranting. I respect American culture and love many things about it and hate many things about it, the same way I love and hate many things in my own culture. But that’s the thing, These are elements which belong to American culture not the Arab culture. There are canyons and oceans which seperate the two; geography isn’t just a coincidence. You’ll find at the root of this post is really my hatred for our lack of innovation and desire to imitate like monkeys anything the west does without thinking about the consequences. And sometimes its like thinking you could breathe oxygen on the moon. thanks for the comment 🙂

    Khalidah, “a large percentage of Jordanians do”, okay there’s just no way that’s true based simply on those quiz shows where they go out to the street to ask people questions for prizes. It’s not that people are dumb, its just that they’re preoccupied with distractions. I agree with everything else you said.

    Shaden, of course im halarious 😀

    Roba, lol no offense to the shmesani kids. im just generalizing. as for over analyzing…it’s the people that under analyze that get me scared!

  • You should check out ‘our NEW local’ radio stations,
    in their celebration of valentine’s and their matchmaking

    God bless you.
    Keep on ranting.

  • bilotee, oh God, I knew something would eventually happen. we don’t have free press but lets use what media we do have to do a bit of matchmaking.


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  • You’re just ranting and about to explode because you don’t have a Valentine!

    like, okay! i am so emza7ing! :p

    by the way, didn’t I tell you before … those raised abroad tend to hold tight to their values and are more traditional/cultural/nationalistic/patriotic … like moi & toi

    (sorry, it’s been a long day! lol)

  • Nas — thanks for your graceful reply. But, right now, I have a kid that’s struggling with something that a brilliant Arab invented: Al Gebra.

    And no. I’m not taking anything here as anti-American hate. I very much appreciate your articles; it’s helpful with insights which are important to me.

    About half the Americans I know like Valentines day, and half hate it. So, I’ve got a cute candy heart for the ones that like it on my blog; and a link to your article for the ones that hate it. http://cuppapolitics.blogspot.com/2006/02/which-candy-heart-are-you.html
    Apologies for the address; depending on the day, I have trouble figuring out the trackback thingie.

  • The fact is, I really donâ??t give a shit.

    LOL!!! I hear you man, every one of the 750 words you wrote says that 😀

    Good rant!! Do you know that it’s so not about couples enjoying their love for each other that even singles now hold anti-valentine’s day parties on Feb. 14th? :p

  • Nas, I had such a serious look on my face reading the whole post, until the last paragraph, you really made me laugh out loud as I pictured Arabs sitting with Native Americans 😀

    As a Jordanian living in the US, I notice that a lot of people here are beginning to see that this and other holidays are being hijacked by businesses to such an extreme level that it’s making them “boycott” Valentine’s. I came back home from the mall yesterday and I kept seeing flashes of red everywhere! But I know for sure that I get so much more annoyed when I see average Jordanians and Arabs celebrating this day with more fervor than Americans. It irks me for all the reasons you mentioned, plus the fact that I feel like a lot of people (not the abdoun kids, lol) can’t afford these stupid expenses but they still impose it on themselves and feel obliged to celebrate it because it’s “so cool.”

    Thanks for the “fashet alb”!

  • Valentine’s day is just a day manifesting the daily changes that the Jordanian society has been going through. Its like a telescope giving us the opportuniy to realize how “Americanized” (aka modern to some others)we’ve become.

    So good luck on your next “dailty” rantings

  • Nas, I’m laughing too, even with a twinge of irritation about the Thanksgiving comment. But, sometimes truth hurts. Too me, Thanksgiving is the last American holiday where there is a vestige of God-centered origin…acknowledging there is Someone bigger in charge who is worthy of giving thanks.

    I was raised to boycott all “Hallmark” hi-jacked (or created) holidays…we made our own cards and expressions of love.

    I agree, this is just another phenomenon of the East forsaking it’s best cultural expression in favor of the worst of the West. And you can ‘give thanks’ that you didn’t see Mecca Mall in all it’s red, heart, English language glory yesterday.

    Rant on!

  • Nasim,,I loved your article.I am not such an anti valentine person but still you made a lot of sense.My husband and I sometimes celebrte it and sometimes don’t.It’s just nice to show someone you care.with a rose or a present or a dinner or even a word.sometimes you are too busy with your daily life that you have to remind yourself to set a special time for affection..sometimes we prepare as ecial candle light dinner at home after the kids are tucked warmly in their beds..and thi alone is a special memory.what i mean to say is ..you could celebrate valentine for the sake of love and not for the sake of blind imitations to anyone else.last night we grabbed a couple of falafel sandwiches ,ate them in the car,watched some tv,folded the laundry and went to bed!!how romantic ha?well:thanksgiving?in amman?who knows?did you see the ramdan decorations?there are actually ramadan trees nowadays!!

  • i take this to mean that i shouldnâ??t wait for those roses to arrive in the mail? This is really my fault… i knew i shouldnâ??t have discussed anything more than the Ninja Turtles with you as a kid

  • Sampling other cultures is all fine, as long as its not at the expense of knowing your own, and that is where the danger of all this western assimilation with little thought lies. Valentines is just another example!

    The bit that interested me was Khalidahâ??s comment â??as a large percentage of Jordanians doâ? I so wish you were even close to the truth,

    I tell you what if you run a survey of 100 people and more than 5 get all the dates right, A7saan 3azoomeh lakol ilshabab wal shabat 3ali, you are welcome to even choose all the candidates form the history department at any University!

  • I totally agree with you! I was born and raised here and it makes me sick to my stomach to hear stuff like this and seeing it is so much worse. I remember going to jordan a few summers ago and my cousins begging me only to use english when we go to coffee shops. To spite them I only spoke arabic that day( although very broken). I just do not understand why these imbeciles think western culture is sooooooo KEWL. It really is sad but it puts everything in perspective of why we (arabs) are in major turmoil.peace and love

Your Two Piasters: