Valentine’s Day in Shanghai is a copy of the American holiday with a few added quirks. While flowers and chocolate dominate the event, bouquets of little animal heads are also popular. This design is based on a famous Chinese wolf-sheep cartoon.
I started couple-hunting on East Nanjing Lu to see what Valentine’s Day is like in the modern commercial part of Puxi.
I was quickly approached by one of the many flower vendors on the street. Roses went for about 75 cents each in the afternoon.
At this shop counter, the saleswomen’s perpetual smiles were only matched by their continuous broadcasting into the headset while holding up red treats of some kind.
This wildly popular and expensive American chain in Shanghai took the opportunity to market for Valentine’s Day.
The soft text in the Haagen-Dazs window reads, “Cafe — Patisserie.” Haagen-Dazs is an elegant sit-down affair. Prices are much higher here than in the States, since ice cream is an imported concept from “American culture.”
A couple buys baked goods together. I tried a tasty pastry from this stand that consisted of a dusty mix of sugar and finely-ground peanuts slipped into a handful of pliable dough.
Once I left East Nanjing Road, there were flower delivery bikes on every street.
The distribution centers, local flower shops, were beautifully messy. Notice the sparkly blue roses. They’re popular but fake, like many fashionable items in this city.
Other presents included giant teddy bears. I heard that if a girl likes karaoke, her boyfriend should get her one of these stuffed animals. I don’t understand the correlation yet.
A store in the Hongkou District sells matching sweatshirts for couples. Tomato and egg, for example, is a very popular lunch dish here. Unfortunately, I didn’t see any couples emerge from the fitting rooms.
Here’s a happy couple standing in line at a Shanghai Dairy Queen who gladly let me take their picture. Note the Year-of-the-Tiger bouquet.
I visited the arcades, where girlfriends impatiently waited for their boyfriends to finish shooting was the trend. An arcade employee stopped me as I was about to take a picture of a couple at a roulette table. Gambling machines are verboten here. A man with a headset guards the street elevator, the only accessible entrance to the smoky arcade.
This couple seemed to enjoy making a scene. The boyfriend kept trying to buy a rose while his girlfriend pulled him away, scolding him for wanting to waste money.
They didn’t seem to mind that I was taking pictures, but when I started laughing, the woman yelled, “See? Even she’s laughing at me!” and tugged a little harder at his arm.
When I left, they were still at it. Above, the flower dealer waits patiently at his cart.