The war of the roses - Cupid’s arrows fly off the shelves in Seychelles on Valentine’s Day
Local flower businesses have cashed in on the love frenzy this week importing thousands of roses mainly from Kenya as demand increased for Valentine's Day. (Joe Laurence, Seychelles News Agency)
(Seychelles News Agency) - Teddy bears, perfumes, chocolates, jewellery, cards, romantic meals or getaways are all on the cards today as couples exchange gifts on February 14.
Every year, an increasing number of the Seychelles population of around 90,000 people are joining other romantics worldwide to celebrate Valentine's Day - and local businesses are cashing in on the love frenzy.
"This year I have bought a heart-shaped cushion with the words ‘I love you’ written on it for my boyfriend,” Kelly told SNA on Friday.
“I also bought balloons, ten saying I love you and five heart-shaped ones which I will blow up and decorate the bedroom with tonight,” she added while confidently, adding that her boyfriend would also be surprising her with a nice gift.
Since the beginning of the week, shops in the Seychelles capital of Victoria have been dressed up in red, the colour associated with love.
|A wide selection of gifts on display in the shops for Valentine's Day. (Seychelles News Agency) Photo License: CC-BY|
One shop owner told SNA that people have been searching for various gift ideas, adding that she expected some customers to be still searching for that perfect gift at the very last minute today.
But while some are wandering around undecided on what would be most welcomed by their loved ones, others seem to know exactly what to look for.
“I am going for roses... I already ordered since the beginning of the week,” said Cliff, explaining that for him it’s the easiest gift to find.
Saying it with a rose - flower business booms for Valentines
The idea of conveying one's emotions with a bouquet of flowers, especially roses on Valentine's Day appears to have been the preferred choice of many in Seychelles this year, as florists have reported a brisk trade as clients rushed into their shops this week.
‘Dorothy's the Florist’ located on the outskirts of Victoria confirmed to SNA that this year, more people have been purchasing flowers for Valentine's than in previous years.
On Wednesday, some twenty clients had turned up at opening time at 8.30 am, buying up all the roses in stock. By the time SNA arrived to take photographs half an hour later, there was nothing left.
|Fresh roses seem to be the preferred choice of many for Valentines Day, forcing florists to import more flowers for the occasion. (Joe Laurence, Seychelles News Agency) Photo License: CC-BY|
The increase in demand has even pushed Padayachy's Funeral Services, which imports flowers in bulk from Nairobi - mainly lilies and chrysanthemums to remember the deceased - to bring in more roses for lovers, more than doubling its weekly import average due to the brisk Valentine's Day trade.
“We imported 15,000 roses this week to meet demand because of Valentine's Day. That compares to 4,000 to 6, 000 on most weeks," business owner Andrew Padayachy told SNA.
Padayachy also said that it was not only those in the flower business ordering roses for Valentine’s Day. He claims that one large company, which he did not identify, decided to place its own direct order from the same Kenyan supplier for 20,000 red roses, presumably to give to clients and staff members..
Padayachy noted that exporters in Kenya have upped prices for the occasion. He told SNA that he normally sells roses at a little over $1 (15 Seychelles rupees) a piece, but Kenyan exporters have put their prices up by 20 percent for the occasion.
|One importer told SNA that he has imported 15,000 roses to cater for demand. (Joe Laurence, Seychelles News Agency) Photo License: CC-BY|
Unfortunately, roses in Seychelles, once grown locally, are presently all imported, mainly from Kenya.
Three growers in the La Misere area, on the mountain above south Victoria, told SNA they stopped production several years ago as it became cheaper to import than grow.
"Roses are delicate. They can only be grown in cool areas and even there they have to be under shade netting. Even then, a lot of manure and fertilisers have to be used," said one former grower, who did not wish to be identified.
Other florists who are not importing purchase their roses from regular importers, such as Padayachy's Funeral Services and Rosie's Flower Shop, an outlet at the Victoria Market which is owned by Cherubin Morin.
Loved ones overseas have not been forgotten
Besides bright red, which is the favourite for Valentine's, roses are also available in other colours such as pink, white, purple, blue and yellow.
Roses are sold single or arranged in vases or baskets, with customers being charged for both the container and the number of flowers purchased.
|A wide variety of roses of different colours being carefully selected to offer the perfect bouquet or flower basket ordered by romantic customers. (Joe Laurence, Seychelles News Agency) Photo License: CC-BY|
While some prefer to give out the gifts personally, others who like to spice things up a bit prefer for the flowers to be delivered either at work or at home, as most florists also offer a delivery service.
Dorothy Westergreen was the archipelago's first commercial florist, having been in the business for some 50 years now. Her business is the local agent for Interflora, which offers same day delivery to 70,000 centres worldwide through the internet.
She told SNA that she did a training course with the London-based Interflora in 1965 and cleverly set up her business ahead of the opening ceremony of Seychelles international airport in 1972, at which she supplied all the flowers.
While the internet is being widely used by people in Seychelles for this service to send flowers to relatives and friends for special occasions, such as weddings, birthdays, newborns, get-well-soon and funerals, most of Westergreen’s orders this week have been for Valentine’s Day.
|Once once grown locally, roses are presently all imported to Seychelles, mainly from Kenya. (Joe Laurence, Seychelles News Agency) Photo License: CC-BY|
The story of Valentine's Day and its link to lovers is shrouded in mystery.
The Catholic Encyclopaedia claims that at least three early Christian saints named Valentine died as martyrs on February 14.