Love is in the Air: Voices From Laos on Valentine’s Day

Representational image (Photo: India TV News)

Valentine’s Day is not an official holiday in Laos, yet the entire country embraces a celebratory spirit every 14th of February. 

Although this day lacks traditional roots in Lao culture, urban areas across Laos showcase shops lining the streets, selling flowers and gifts in celebration of Valentine’s Day.

“Despite not being [a part of] Lao culture, I see Valentine’s Day as another popular festival, akin to Halloween, Chinese New Year, or Countdown,” said Lanta Philachan, a 22-year-old Lao girl who is based in Vientiane Capital. “However, many people, especially in rural areas and those not exposed to social media, may not be familiar with it.”

Lanta mentioned that, despite being influenced by Western customs and social media, Valentine’s Day presents a great opportunity to celebrate with loved ones. 

“I think it is a wonderful chance for people to celebrate with loved ones, not just boyfriends or girlfriends, but also with parents and friends,” added Lanta.

In Laos, numerous individuals commemorate the occasion by exchanging gifts and sharing romantic meals as heartfelt gestures to express their deep love and affection for one another. 

During this special time, many businesses, restaurants, and cafes in Laos also roll out special Valentine’s Day menus or promotions, aiming to draw in more customers and craft memorable experiences for couples. Despite the widespread celebration of Valentine’s Day, there are still individuals who opt out of partaking in the festivities.

“For others, it’s a special day; but for me, it’s just a normal day,” said Somnuek Chanthamith, a Lao university student.

Bouasone Keosinuan, a Lao woman who works for EconoxLaos, also said she has never celebrated the occasion. 

“I know that a lot of my friends, especially those who have partners, celebrate in schools; but I don’t usually celebrate it,” she said.

Valentine’s Day in Laos, though not recognized as an official holiday, mirrors the impact of Western culture and social media, particularly those embraced by the youth as a means of expressing affection. However, the diversity of perspectives within Lao society leads to some individuals opting out of the celebrations.