by Marwa Yahya
CAIRO, Feb. 14 (Xinhua) -- Despite the prices hike in the county, Egyptians went into flowers, chocolates and gifts shops to celebrate the Valentine's Day on Tuesday.
At Zehour el-Dokki flower shop in Cairo's southwestern district of Dokki, Mohamed Adel, a 26-year-old accountant, paid 75 pounds (4.5 U.S. dollars) for a small bouquet of red roses.
"I wanted to buy more flowers, but I can't afford it since the minimum price of one rose is 15 pounds," said the young man, who wanted to express his love to his girlfriend.
Prices have risen sharply since Egypt allowed in early November of 2016 full floatation of the local currency. Egypt's core inflation has then soared to its highest level in over a decade, hitting 30.86 percent in January of 2017.
"We've lost a lot," said Abu Adel, employee at the same flower shop, adding the flowers prices this year have increased by 60 percent.
"The prices of basic commodities are rising, and many people don't have spare income to spend on flowers," he added.
Unlike other western holidays, the "Holiday of Love," as it is called in Arabic, has spread widely across Egypt, despite being viewed by many conservative people as taboo.
The day marks love and affection between intimate companions, which is named after a Christian martyr named Valentine and was established by Pop Gelasius I in 496.
Moustafa Kareem, an employee of a gift shop in Zamalek, an upscale district situated on an island in the Nile, attributed the decline in celebrating the day to social factors than economic ones.
"People still are conservative to celebrate that day while some religious preachers say it's forbidden," Kareem said.
He added that young people of conservative families wouldn't even dare to wear red clothes on that day, or they will be mocked by their relatives.
"This is a western celebration that is strange to our values and religion," said Amira Sayed, a housewife in her sixties.
She added that it is always strange when people are wasting their money and time on non-religious event.
However, Mohamed Abdel Wahab, owner of a gifts shop in Giza, said the sales this year are better than that of last year despite high prices.
"The Egyptians want to live happy moments and celebrate as they have lived in frustration after experiencing two uprisings and ouster of two presidents with ailing economy," Wahab said.
He added that the Valentine Day's sales have rescued many shops that suffered stagnation after the pound floatation. "The shop earned on Monday around 7,000 pounds (418 dollars) compared to 1,000 (60 dollars) in the ordinary days," he said.
Through the city of Giza, the streets are festooned with teddy bears, heart-shaped pillows and red rose bouquets.
Even beggars who usually sit in the street and sell packs of tissues were walking in the streets selling single red roses.
The Nile cruises are decorated with neon lights and speakers blaring love songs.
"I saved money all over the year to buy a chocolate and a good watch for my fiance," said Alyaa Mahmoud, a 32-year-old teacher.
"I want to surprise my love in the day of love; it's a moment when we express our feelings, so I forget about high prices now," she added with a smile, decorating the gift with a flower.