Today, the city will be painted in red, not because there’s some danger lurking around; it will be a red day as lovers take out time to mark Valentine’s Day. February 14, celebrated across the globe, is a day people show affection to another person by sending gifts, cards, flowers, cakes and chocolates.
Several legends are associated with Valentine’s Day. One of them and the most popular is that Valentine’s Day is named after a person and his name was Saint Valentine. According to the legend, the story of this loving day is not filled with love. It is about a confrontation between a saint valentine and a cruel king. Saint Valentine was a priest in Rome and served during the third century while Claudius II reigned as king.
The king was against love affairs and marriage. He believed that by love or marriage, soldiers forget their goals and the married man is always worried about what will happen to his family after his death. Due to this concern, he is unable to pay full attention to the battle. Keeping this in mind, King Claudius announced that no soldier of his kingdom will marry and anyone who did not listen to him will be punished severely. All the soldiers were unhappy with this decision but there was a saint in Rome named Valentine who did not accept the decision of the king. He started marrying the soldiers by hiding from the king. When King Claudius got the news, he sentenced Saint Valentine to death.
In Nigeria, despite the gloom and blues about the economy and spate of insecurity, many are still upbeat about a memorable outing, especially with the day falling on a weekend. Speaking to The Guardian, Mrs. Blessing said: “If we want to tag Valentine’s Day to Christianity, it should be the celebration of the courage of the priest. It is a season of love, couples that are married should have a way to celebrate one another, those still in relationship would also want to make it a special day for themselves Everyday is supposed to be celebrated with love ones.”
For Boluwatife Aderogba, “We are in a country where everybody is trying to take off stress from the daily routine. For me, I will celebrate with my loved ones, especially friends and family to have fun and forget the worries for a while. Love shouldn’t be remembered on February 14. One must celebrate love everyday.”
A research carried out last year revealed that 83 per cent of Nigerians celebrate Valentine’s Day. The research undertaken by Picodi surveyed over 5,600 people from 32 different countries, including Europe, Asia, Africa, South and North America.
According to the research, Nigerians tend to enjoy Valentine’s Day, as four-fifth of them attested to this, which represents 83 per cent. The other 17 per cent refuse any form of celebration. The report reveals that there is good news for all the restaurants, cinemas or gift shop owners, as well as jewellery stores, as precisely one third of male Nigerians will offer their soul-mates a romantic date in the restaurant, while 33 per cent of men is going to choose jewelery and perfumes and slightly more than a quarter (28 per cent) prefer clothing.
The research also disclosed that women preferred more romantic approach—underwear/lingerie (40 per cent), travel/trip out of town (40 per cent) or simply jewelery (40 per cent).
Meanwhile, some cake bakers and small chops vendors in Jos have lamented low patronage ahead of Valentine’s Day celebration, blaming the economic situation in the country for the poor sales.
The traders expressed the viewpoint in separate interviews on Thursday. Most of the cake makers said that they had offered discounts for their various packages, but that the level of patronage was still low and discouraging.
Miss Jumoke Alawo of JA Cakes and small chops said that in the past she was usually overwhelmed by the clients’ orders.
“This time around, I have received very few orders, and most clients are placing orders for cupcakes rather the bigger cakes,” Alawo said. She said because of the prevailing cash squeeze most people needed to feed before considering luxuries.
But in Lagos, some shops and malls are recording an increase in the purchase of lingerie, cakes and roses. In a survey conducted at The Palms Mall, Lekki, and Novera Mall, Sangotedo, on Wednesday, indications emerged of an upsurge in sales.
Mr. Adebayo Azeez, Manager, Lulu Lingerie, told newsmen that he had recorded at least a 15 per cent increase in the sale of lingerie. He attributed the increase to more awareness of the product, current purchasing power of Nigerians and the Valentine season bug.
“Checking my records, we have recorded not less than 15 per cent increase when it comes to the sales of lingerie. We, however, noticed that women know their sizes, but do not really know the exact sizes for the men and we have to work with their assumptions and sell to them,” he said.
A florist sales person who pleaded anonymity also revealed a boom in the sales of fresh roses.
She expressed hope of more purchases by Thursday evening. “We are really selling and there has been an improvement when compared to last year. Calls have already started coming in with regards to more orders and, as you know, Nigerians like rush hour. By tomorrow, this place will be jam-packed and we hope to satisfy everybody,” she said.