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A day full of more amour and angst for lovers
(China Daily)
Updated: 2004-02-14 09:20

Valentine's Day is supposed to be a happy time when lovers express their affection for each other and even bystanders can look on in a "hello-young-lovers-I-had-a-love-of-my-own" mood. But not everyone is charmed or bemused.

An elderly couple celebrate their 50th marriage anniversary of on Qixi, the Chinese lovers' day. [newsphoto]
The Chinese name for Valentine's Day is "qing ren jie," or literally "lovers' day." "Love" is the someone you love. But its meaning can be either broadened or narrowed. In the West, it is sometimes expanded to include anyone you love, for example, parents, friends or even pets. In China, "qing ren" sometimes carries a connotation of "extramarital affairs." The theory goes, before one gets married, a lover is the one you love and want to marry; but after marriage, your lover can refer to someone other than your spouse.

This is exactly what some married people fear, especially females. Suffering from the boredom of married life, their spouses are suspected to be secretly courting younger, more passionate lovers.

A counselling centre in Northeast China's Dalian has reported a tripling of visitors in recent days. Most of them had the phobia of their husbands being snatched away by former lovers, in the vortex of Valentine's Day infatuation.

Psychiatrists suggest that, instead of watching for traces of inexplicable flowers or gifts that may show up at home, the "damsel in holiday distress" should focus on the positive by taking the initiative and planning for an intimate night with the spouse.

Singles with no dates tend to be reminded wherever they turn to by the ubiquitous heart-shaped merchandise that they will remain alone and miserable through the night. Mao Hong, a 30-something secretary working at a Dalian-based multinational firm, says she is not going out with anyone because she has not yet found someone to her liking. But as Valentine's Day draws near, there are all kinds of parties and celebrations, which have thrown her into a tailspin of despondency. She feels that she is gripped by sudden fits of tantrum.

Counsellors told her that Valentine's Day is, after all, an imported holiday and she should treat it as just another day. If worse comes to worst, she could always buy herself flowers.

Parents with teenagers belong to another category of Valentine's Day detractors. The kids are so obsessed with buying that extraordinary gift for puppy love, they complain that it has become a burden on family finances or children's work schedule.

Then there are the puritanical or platonic exponents who frown upon advertising of condoms as "too vulgar" or "too suggestive." Valentine's Day is for love, they contend, and it celebrates the purity of a blissful emotion. It would be wrong to equate it with sex as they imply that sex is dirty or inappropriate for the occasion.

That would have given St Valentine food for thought.

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