Valentine’s Day in China: lovers woo, merchants too

February 13th, 2009 - 10:05 am ICT by IANS  

Shanghai, Feb 13 (Xinhua) Wu Yiran, 23, has booked a table for Friday night at a Korean restaurant for dinner with her boyfriend as part of an early St. Valentine’s Day celebration that falls Saturday.
“I put it a day earlier because restaurants will be overcrowded and meals will be overpriced on the Valentine’s Day,” said Wu, who works for a Shanghai-based joint venture.

Shopping malls, supermarkets, restaurants and entertainment venues were prepared a week before the festival with roses, balloons, gifts and discounts.

Special counters for jewellery, flowers, teddy bears, chocolates and other gifts were set up in most shopping centres, and love songs echoed from every corner.

Beijing’s Grand Pacific department store transformed its entrance into a wedding scene for the Valentine’s Day promotion even on the night of the Chinese traditional Lantern Festival, which came five days earlier.

Both western-style and Chinese restaurants were advertising wine-and-dine packages at differing price tiers to attract different groups.

Quanjude, a 145-year-old restaurant chain known for Peking roast duck, also promoted Valentine’s Day package menus in its branches in Beijing, Shanghai and Qingdao, an eastern coastal city widely known for brand worship.

The Beijing Happy Valley theme park said it would offer a free ticket to ladies who came with their partners and arrange special activities for lovers during the Valentine’s Day weekend.

Even blood donation centres were offering special gifts to donors.

The Changsha Blood Centre in central Hunan Province said they would present roses and movie tickets to lovers who donate blood Feb 14, a tradition they have followed for the past four years.

Valentine’s Day is symbolic of caring for others, and in that spirit, more than 700 people across the city donated blood last Valentine’s Day, twice as much as on usual days, said Xu Zhaoxian, an employee with the centre.

For lovers who are racking their brains to make arrangements for the special day, Google China has launched a special map that provides information on recommended gifts, performances, theatres, bars, hotels, scenic spots, parks and discounts for Valentine’s Day in Beijing.

A candlelight dinner and a romantic movie are standard for many lovers in China, and a one-or-two-day tour is also a hot choice as Valentine’s Day falls on a weekend this year.

Statistics from Ctrip, a leading online travel agency in China, showed that the number of short tour-reservations for this weekend doubled from usual weekends.

Ma Xing, a Ctrip staff member, said spas and skiing were favourite activities of customers in Beijing and Shanghai during this year’s festival.

Due to the global financial crisis, many merchants decided not to give luxurious offers such as deluxe suites. Netizens also discussed ways to save money on Valentine’s Day.

Cooking meals at home and folding paper roses were among popular online suggestions for an inexpensive romantic Valentine’s Day.

“With good ideas, we still can cut the spending without discounting the romance,” said a netizen from Hubei Province on qq.com.

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