KAMPALA, Uganda 

With Uganda’s economy opening up following a lockdown to combat a major surge in COVID-19 cases, businesses that cater to romance are counting on Valentine’s Day to breathe new life into sales.

The day is disparaged and revered in equal measure, with some saying it is just as much about spending as it is about love, and it is this commercialization of the day that has made it unwelcome. Other people say it is the most romantic day of the year and it is not expensive as alleged.

Chef Maria Aguja, who works at Jokoni Restaurant in Kampala, told Anadolu Agency that while Valentine’s Day may be a traditional holiday about love, there’s nothing wrong with the tendency to spend in connection with the day.

Love is absolutely free, but Valentine’s Day is not, she said.

“No one is saying limit all your love to just Valentine’s Day and spend all your hard-earned savings. But consider it a scheduled romantic day. Take your spouse out, make them forget COVID-19 stress. Do your own thing for once. Book a dinner at one of the luxurious restaurants. Plan for your intimacy, and use this to set new standards in your relationship,” she said.

“Those disparaging Valentine’s Day are the people who don’t want to spend on their spouses and find a convenient excuse. For those who don’t have what to spend, it’s a different thing all together,” she added.

However, Hatma Nalugwa Sekaya, a celebrated news anchor in Uganda, said the day is only manufactured for people who only try to love once a year.

“Shouldn’t we just be showing our spouses how much we love them every day?” she said.

“Couples should strive to learn their partner’s love language rather than trying to convince themselves that Valentine’s Day is the way to go.

“We all express and receive love differently, and therefore understanding those differences can make a serious impact on your relationship. Many people want to show their partners that they love them, but they struggle to do it in a way that speaks to their partner’s heart. Knowing your partner’s love language and letting them know yours can have a lasting impression on a relationship,” she added.

Sekaya said “there are five common love languages in a relationship that people speak, including gifting, physical touch, words of affirmation, quality time and acts of service. Both people will want to express love in a way that is meaningful to the other.”

She urged especially Muslim men to learn the grand romantic gestures which seem to be not part of their vocabulary.

More men buy flowers, bouquets

Shemei Ndawula, a florist in Uganda’s capital Kampala, told Anadolu Agency it is a myth that men are not romantic, saying that they only have no incentive to be romantic.

He said he gets more male customers buying flowers and bouquets for their loved ones than women, adding flowers being the common gift for Valentine’s Day, most of his sales are from men, while most women buy teddy bears and heart cushions.

To those who look down on this day, saying they don’t need just one day to show that they love their spouses, he wondered when they ever show love.

“This could be the moment that actually a marriage needs to freshen up!” he said.

“In a society where displaying affection in public is still frowned upon, I think Valentine’s Day is for us more than anyone anywhere else. Someone came up with a day where love need not be body_abstract but, rather, intentional and could build a beautiful thing,” he said.

“The pandemic disrupted many romantics’ preferred plans last year, so it’s a good idea to make it up on Valentine’s Day.”

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