Happy Valentine's Day! OMG It's Illegal in Malaysia!!

February 14, 2011

Valentine's Day is illegal in Malaysia

Happy Valentine's Day! We were certainly stunned to find out that Valentine's Day is ILLEGAL in Malaysia. Wow! Who would have guessed that? I thought the only sin that Valentine's Day creates is it has become way too commercialized.

You CAN get Valentine cards and goodies here as my visiting  mother bought the one in this photo above for our 10 year old yesterday at Gurney Plaza. Most of  Asia is still celebrating Chinese New Year, so Valentine's Day takes a back seat in most of Asia and it's not mentioned in our child's Mandarin school here in Penang. A few of the girls did bring candy to school for special friends in honor of Valentine's Day, but no one brought Valentines, nor was it an official celebration. Schools here have February 15th off for a Malaysian holiday, celebrating the birthday of Islam's Prophet Mohammad.

Happy Valentine's Day


If one looks closer though, it does make more sense. Malaysia is a Muslim country and Valentine's Day is originally about Saint Valentine, so even though most people don't think about it in those terms, it does have a Christian background. From the Muslim perspective, which made the law against Valentine's Day in Malaysia ( a 2005 fatwa), it seems it was because of this priest named Valentine who died on February 14th and became a Christian Saint also promoted war against Muslims.

So that is understandable. Not too many people would want to celebrate someone who wanted to kill you. Still a bit surprising because there seems to be much religious tolerance here. It doesn't seem to rule it against all Malaysians, but only for Muslims. They also seem to think that it promotes premarital sex for some reason, although I've read many rebuttals about this law even from the Muslim perspective, so it sounds like it remains a bit controversial even here.

Valentine's Day love and presents

Chap Gog Meh is the traditional Chinese Valentine's Day and that is celebrated here in Penang by throwing oranges or tangerines into the sea. It's celebrated on the 15th day of Chinese New Year , is called Night of Romance and is still popular in Penang.

Remember our Chocolate Valentine from Germany?

Yum! Valentine's Day is always a good excuse for chocolate if nothing else. Grin.


I am all for love, but not for commercialism or polarization so we celebrate Valentine's Day every day with a focus on love and do also make little  homemade cards with goodies for our daughter. My husband wooed me with his ability to make charming things like this wrapping paper and tiny card by hand and I still enjoy the fun of giving and receiving these little tributes to love. Needless to say, so does kidlet.

How do you celebrate Valentine's Day.... or do you?


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Weird. The Thais LOVE LOVE Valentines. Mostly I think Valentines is a holiday to pair up single teenagers; however, I think giving cards to teach other is sweet, both as adults and kids.


I just wanted to say thank you for posting this. I recently wrote a blog about international ways to celebrate Valentine's Day and this fits right in with it! You do a great job of being informative and yet interesting and personal at the same time. Do you have a favorite place to celebrate Valentine's Day since you are world travelers? When I was in elementary school my classmates and I would exchange candy and little cards with sayings like "be my Valentine" but as I have gotten older I really do not celebrate it other than treating myself to some sweets. This is the first country that I have heard of where Valentine's Day is actually an illegal celebration. How strictly is this law enforced? Would someone be imprisoned or reprimanded in some way for saying Happy Valentine's Day? Awesome job! Keep it up!


Love that chocolate video!

I think the part about killing muslims may not be true since St. Valentine lived in the 3rd century and Islam hadn't been invented yet. For some reason Egypt celebrates it but other muslim countries don't. I guess it's the same concept as Christians in America who don't celebrate Halloween because of the pagan origins.

Mozart's drawing and handwriting are outstanding. She's a very creative little girl.


Marlana- Funny! I think the girls that gave out candy at kidlet's school today where from Thailand! The cultures are so different in many ways despite being so close. I think because this is a 3 culture country and Thailand is not as diverse. The Thai culture seems very different than Chinese, Indian or Malay too.


Becky- Wow, thanks so much for the lovely compliment..especially from someone who writes for National Geographic! I'm flattered because I DO try to hit that balance, so I'm happy that you got it. ;)

If you look at my first link about it being illegal, it tells that there are indeed consequences for Muslims celebrating Valentine's Day. It seems to be quite controversial least online.

Off to check out your neat post on V day! ;)


Jo- Thanks, sorry to tempt your diet with that chocolate! ;) Mine too.

Your points make sense and I think your Halloween analogy is correct. Some Muslims do celebrate Valentine's Day because they see it as secular, but for those who see it as a religious festival, it feels wrong to them and against their religious principals.

Mozart really IS an outstanding artist, but the pics shown are not of her art. The cute package/card is home made from her dad and my scribbles are on my "special delivery" envelope. Grandma bought the card with the boa trim. ;)

Those were our little treats and surprises for her when she got home from school today.She gave us ours later so not included in the photos. ;)


Happy Valentine to the 4 of you!

This was so interesting! I like the quote from the article you provided: "There is no special day in Islam for a person to celebrate their love, as it is something that should be done everyday"...a universal principle for sure! :)


IN addition to rampant commercialism my hubby's b'day is 2/12. Still every year it surprises him when he finds a little love note w/ a favorite chocolate bar hidden somewhere. (this yr was tucked into the waistband of his boxers in the drawer!)

He always slips out and brings our daughter a bud vase w/ a rose and a large bundle of mixed fresh flowers for me. He does this several times a yr for me because he knows I enjoy making several bouquets to toss around the house but he makes sure to so on V-Day especially.

If you don't celebrate it *every* day, it's likely it won't matter by next V-Day!

Thanks for continuing to share your journeys with us!!!


Great post! Love reading about the differences in cultures AND history on a holiday.

Sending you some luv from the US. <3

aka @TravelBlggr


I checked out the history of St Valentine on Catholic Online and it says St Valentine was martyred in 270 AD. Here is an excerpt:
"The first representation of Saint Valentine appeared in a The Nuremberg Chronicle, a great illustrated book printed in 1493. [Additional evidence that Valentine was a real person: archaeologists have unearthed a Roman catacomb and an ancient church dedicated to Saint Valentine.] Alongside a woodcut portrait of him, text states that Valentinus was a Roman priest martyred during the reign of Claudius the Goth [Claudius II]. Since he was caught marrying Christian couples and aiding any Christians who were being persecuted under Emperor Claudius in Rome [when helping them was considered a crime], Valentinus was arrested and imprisoned. Claudius took a liking to this prisoner -- until Valentinus made a strategic error: he tried to convert the Emperor -- whereupon this priest was condemned to death. He was beaten with clubs and stoned; when that didn't do it, he was beheaded outside the Flaminian Gate [circa 269]."
Apparently he is the patron saint of love, young people and happy marriages. but a muslim killer he was not. He was long gone before the Muslims arrived on the scene.


Nadine- Thanks! Hope yours was fun too!


Webjet- I loved that quote too, so true, eh?


Webjet- I loved that quote too, so true, eh?


Dawn - Aw, sweet stories! Love it! So true that Valentine's Day should be celebrated every day. Thanks for your kind words!


Rachelle - Thanks! I love it that this law gave me something new to think about too.

Sending LUV right back to you! ;)


Thanks peipappy for the history details. I probably should have looked that up and it is interesting how another culture would view that.

Jo had mentioned something similar in her comment.

Having lived in a tiny village in Spain for the last 4 winters where Christians, Muslims and Jews lived peacefully together for 800 years had an impact on us as well as the horrific stories of the Spanish inquisition that took place there. I am still haunted by the Muslim women who jumped to their deaths from the mountainsides there with babes in arms rather than to be captured.

It was a horrible time in history and no wonder there are still problems between various religions. Humans have and still do terrible things to one another in the name of God, which is so sad.

It was probably this kind of history ( of Muslim prosecution from crusade or inquisition times with various "Saints" involved) that placed Valentine in the wrong century for some Muslims. ( My guess as I have read it on Muslim sites).

It seems that there is some controversy on exactly when Islam began. Some believe that Islam has been around since the creation of the world and believe that many prophets of Islam came before Mohammed.

History is so complicated and often prejudicial to who is writing it.

Glad to have this take on it, thanks!


When I went to Saudi Arabia in December to visit my parents, who are there for work, my mom told me that when it gets around Christmas the malls remove red clothing from the stores because it's associated with Christmas. S.A. is definitely more strict about Muslim law than Malaysia, but it doesn't surprise me that Valentine's day isn't allowed to be celebrated.

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