Monday, March 2, 2009

Valentine’s Day in Haiti

The United States is probably one of the most commercial countries when it comes to marketing holidays and special occasions. This is, of course, done more for the benefit of the merchants than to truly mark the occasion.

Though I might have expected extensive decorations at the Christmas season in Haiti’s capital city, I was somewhat surprised by the modest displays. With that in mind, I certainly did not anticipate much show for other smaller scale celebrations. However, I was apparently quite wrong. Similar to American campaigns, the Christmas adornments were barely down when hearts, cupids, streamers and other Valentine’s Day decorations were in found in every store and public venue. Shelves were stocked with cards, boxes of chocolate, mugs filled with candy, assorted gifts and, of course, silk roses (artificial flowers are popular here, primarily because they are cost effective). I contributed to the economy by buying Valentine cards for my family and Doug McArthur, a 92-year-old member of my church who is like a member of my family. They were all in French, which, I think, added to the romance of the gesture.

The day before Valentine’s Day, which was a Friday this year, the sidewalks were filled with individual vendors offering a wide range of candies, stuffed animals, jewelry, cologne and more. I was heading out of town to join one of the Seminarians on their fieldwork and regretted not having my camera. It was quite the display.

It was nice to see that, in the midst of many daily challenges in Haiti, love and romance is still very much alive.

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