02/14/2015, 00.00
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Saint Valentine's Day banned in Java schools because it is too "Western"

by Mathias Hariyadi
Festivities on and off school grounds have been cancelled in Depok, Bekasi and Surabaya because they "tarnish our youth's future". Over the past ten years, students and the urban middle class have taken to the celebration, but for most Indonesians, it means little.

Jakarta (AsiaNews) - Three regencies (districts) on the island of Java - Depok, Bekasi and Surabaya - have banned Saint Valentine, the patron saint of lovers, a Western tradition that has spread to the East over the past few years, especially in schools and among young people.

Because of the ban, all festive activities, including school parties, have been cancelled. In Bekasi, Deputy Mayor Ahmad Syaikhu said, "Such a celebration is not relevant to local Indonesian social mores," and would only "tarnish our youth's future." Similarly, the head of the regency's Education Bureau quickly sent a memo to all schools to this effect.

In Depok (West Java), the local Education Bureau chief followed suit, banning "Valentine's Day celebration both on and off school premises".

In Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim nation, many people took to celebrating the patron saint of lovers over the past ten years, especially among urban youth, private school students and the middle classes.

Schools in particular have become the venue of choice for Valentine Day-related activities with students organising a variety of events, and giving each other chocolate and flowers outside school hours in an atmosphere of fun.

Shopping malls too have become places for young people and lovers to meet over a meal. However, for most ordinary Indonesians, the celebration means nothing.

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