Feature: Turkish couples mark Valentine’s Day during pandemic

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ISTANBUL, Feb. 14 (Xinhua) — Marking this year’s Valentine’s Day is a challenge for many Turkish couples as venues in the country were emptied under the COVID-19 lockdown protocols.

But people came up with other forms of celebration. Zeynep Atakan and his boyfriend Kagan Hanci, who live a few kilometers away from each other in the capital Ankara, decided to celebrate the day online.

“Last year, the outbreak had not started yet at this time in Turkey, so it was really different. We had a date in a well-known coffee shop where we ate and spent a very good time,” Atakan noted. “This year, it was a challenge, but we managed to organize a virtual date.”

Turkey has been under weekend lockdowns since early December, which made dating a difficult task for many.

“We even do not have the opportunity to go to a romantic picnic in a park or something,” Selin Dikmeci, a law student from capital Ankara, told Xinhua.

“You miss walking hand in hand with your loved one, you miss the human touch, you miss the warmth,” said Berk Ozgen, an accountancy firm employee. “Making plans now is impossible. We do not know when things will reopen, so we are trying to see each other online to keep the flame alive.”

Ozgen and his girlfriend have planned an unusual date for this year’s Valentine’s day. They will visit the Gobeklitepe Archeological Site Museum in the southeastern province of Sanliurfa, virtually.

“We wanted to go and see this fascinating place by ourselves, but as this is not possible, this virtual tour will have to do, for now as we both love history. At least we can do this together,” Ozgen added.

Turkey’s Culture and Tourism Ministry unveiled a digital portal of museums and historical sites in March 2020, after the outbreak, which hit the tourism industry hard.

The virtual tour to the Gobeklitepe, a 12,000-year-old temple that recently became a UNESCO World Heritage site, has become a popular online activity across the country.

Meanwhile, e-commerce got a boost ahead of Valentine’s Day as shopping portals have offered everything that one can buy for a loved one: jewelry, cakes, chocolates, and flowers.

Restaurants, closed for several months because of the coronavirus restrictions, also offered special takeaway menus for couples.

Turkish flower producers have also managed to cash in ahead of Feb. 14. They have exported 70 million flowers to 22 countries.

Ismail Yilmaz, head of the Ornamental Plants and Products Exporters’ Association, told the state-run Anadolu Agency that this year saw a significant increase in flower export.

Red roses and carnations were the popular flowers, Yilmaz added.

Florists reached their peak sales during this holiday, celebrated mainly in big cities. Street vendors have been selling flowers, balloons, hairpins, among all kinds of other heart-shaped stuff. Enditem

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