Rabat – Every year, hundreds of local movie theaters in the United States replay the 1942 timeless romance Casablanca on Valentine’s Day, but do real Casablancans and other Moroccans celebrate the holiday?
In terms of festivities, Iraqi singer and judge for The Voice, Kazem Al Saher, will be amongst other artists performing special shows throughout Morocco on February 14 filled with romantic hits.
Though no official statistics or studies have tracked Valentine’s Day spending in Morocco in recent years, hundreds of Moroccan men can be seen in coffee shops doing last minute preparation for the holiday on February 13. The responses by residents of Meknes interviewed showcase the variety of opinions about the holiday that exist in Morocco.
Some Moroccans have taken to celebrating the event, maintaining that it makes their loved ones happy, even if in an overly sentimental way.
“I can’t wait to see how my wife reacts to the flowers I picked out for her,” Omar Belizi, a Meknesi pharmacist, told Morocco World News while sipping an espresso. “We don’t usually celebrate, but I want to surprise her this year.”
Still, others insist that the holiday’s Western origins conflict with Moroccan culture and lead to needless spending.
“Most Moroccans do not celebrate the event; all they do is blindly imitate the West,” said Meryem, a Moroccan English teacher. “Celebrating this sort of event is against our conservative traditions.”
Older Moroccan couples tend not to participate in festivities because they are traditional and feel the holiday is unnecessary, according to many of those surveyed.
“After 10, 15, 20 years together, how many older people really need to prove their love for each other with cards or gifts?” asked 24-year-old Ahmed Sultan. “My parents’ generation eats together, prays together, stays together, so these celebrations are more important for couples that aren’t married yet or will get married soon.”
Yusuf Obaidi, a 19-year-old BAC student, said he was nervous to present chocolates to the girl he likes for the first time.
“She’s a childhood friend and I’ve been meaning to tell her about my feelings for a while now,” Obaidi said. “After my friends insisted, I decided to go for it this year. It’s been too long.”