Vietnamese people celebrate the romantic holiday with great enthusiasm despite rising prices for Valentine's Day staples.
HANOI, Feb. 15 (Xinhua) -- Valentine's Day has become incredibly popular in Vietnam, particularly in bigger cities. The romantic holiday with Western origin and a commercial spin offers Vietnamese people more excuses to show their love in different ways.
BUSINESSES KEEPING UP WITH DEMAND
Valentine's Day is the day when a dozen of red roses cost two, three or even four times what they do at any other time of the year, a florist in Hanoi's downtown district of Dong Da told Xinhua.
"Huge increases in the price of red roses have no dampening effect on demand," said Bui Ngoc Lien, who has been running her flower shop for three years.
The cost of a dozen red roses in the lead up to Valentine's Day can range from 240,000 Vietnamese dong (10 U.S. dollars) at a corner store to close to 1.8 million Vietnamese dong (76 U.S. dollars) at a high-end florist shop.
The wide gap in pricing means people looking to buy some flowers can get a nice hand-tied bouquet while sticking to their budget.
"You don't have to spend a ton, we can do an arrangement of mixed flowers with some roses in it," Lien said, already prepping for a busy day in business.
Most roses are imported to Vietnam from Ecuador and China to supplement the locally-grown market, said several online florists, who have encouraged customers to pre-book as early as possible by offering discounts for orders placed as late as Feb. 13.
While red roses and heart-shaped chocolates are common traditions to mark Valentine's Day, many Vietnamese people, especially young couples, also dine out on the day.
"Valentine's Day is one of the busiest days of the year for us, second only to Christmas," said Phan Thu Thao, manager at an upscale pizzeria near Hanoi's scenic West Lake.
The pizzeria, recently emerging on the market with its naturally leavened sourdough pizza crust, has been fully booked on Tuesday, the manager said.
In a country where the average monthly income was about 6.7 million Vietnamese dong (282 U.S. dollars) last year, a two-course meal for two priced at 800,000 Vietnamese dong (34 U.S. dollars) is a big investment.
The age group most likely to go out are 18 to 25 olds, who are also targeted by the pizzeria as core customers.
With expectations running high, the restaurant manager said they would re-arrange the dining room so that every table is for two, besides dimming the lights, playing romantic music and classing up tables with freshly-cut flowers.
"Our job is to make sure love birds get the best service," Thao said, adding that her only worry is how to serve more tables without hurting service quality.
IT'S ALL ABOUT SHARING
Vietnamese people have contextualized Valentine's Day, local social and cultural researchers said, noting that the perception that it is the most romantic time of the year has made Valentine's Day more of an opportunity to express love verbally and openly.
Valentine's Day is now a big deal and it can be stressful for some people.
"This is a time of self-reflection when you ponder on what you have and what you don't have," Vu An, a communication officer with a university in Hanoi, shared her thought on being single on Valentine's Day.
The 39-year-old woman has learnt to ignore the day but she admitted watching couples display affection still makes her wish she had someone to celebrate with. This year, she decided that she would be content to sit on the couch and watch a Netflix movie, after having "an epic meal with her parents."
Not only do single people plan to spend the evening inside, 37-year-old Nguyen Thanh Thuy, a forex trader at a top commercial bank, told Xinhua that she has always treated Valentine's Day the same as other days.
For the mother of two, Valentine's Day is more about sharing love with family members. To avoid a long-awaited night out in town, she said she would rather be at home, celebrating with her husband in the classic ways: chocolate, roses and red wine.
"As a mother working full time, I should be celebrated every day, not just on Valentine's Day," she said with a dry wit.