From sweet talk to sweet treats: Valentine’s romance is always in season

by: Sondang Grace Sirait, Contributor, Jakarta | Supplement | Fri, February 08 2013, 11:22 AM

Come the hell of Jakarta traffic or the high water of recent massive flooding, nothing will stop Hendrika from enjoying a special night out with her husband on Valentine’s Day this year.

That includes the fatigue of single-handedly taking care of a toddler while running a business from her home, or the fact that her husband, Adji, 27, is hardly a romantic type.

He has agreed to dinner at a pizzeria to celebrate. True, it’s not the lavish way the couple marked it in the past, but the 25-year-old is thankful all the same.

“It’s a special day to celebrate love,” says the online shop owner. “When my husband and I were still dating, I used to make elaborate plans for us, which usually entailed candlelight dinner and a movie at a premiere theater.

“But now that we have a young child, it’s kind of hard to keep up. This year I’ll settle for a quiet dinner.”

As lovers plan for their designated magical day next week, retailers also get ready for one of their busiest seasons. While flowers and chocolates remain the two top gift choices, popularity of other retail products has also started to surge as the Valentine’s Day tradition takes hold among 21st century Indonesian consumers.

It all depends on how we choose to express your love. For some, it means saying it with flowers, or presenting a diamond necklace to show the ties that bind.

And some choose to take a bite out of love with cupcakes.

At Le Soho Cupcakes studio in Tanjung Duren, West Jakarta, orders started pouring in as early as January, almost competing with those coming in for Chinese New Year. Here, the mission is to turn romantic ideas into lovely delectable delights, and possibly more.

“One of our clients wanted to propose to his girlfriend on Valentine’s Day,” says Sophie Gunawan, 36, co-owner of the Jakarta-based company with retail outlets in four malls.

“So he asked us to make some kind of a box made of sugar, for him to put a ring in it. And the writing on the cupcakes said, ‘Will you marry me?’”

Another client wanted to give a different Valentine’s Day sentiment. Along with his order was a request for a teddy bear and the message, “I’m sorry”.

“That guy must have messed up quite bad,” says Sophie with a chuckle.

It may strike some as corny, but it also shows that a one-celebration-fits-all approach does not work for this seasonal celebration, unlike others.

Sophie vouches that Valentine’s is the one celebration where customers prefer individually customized cupcakes. Ordering by the dozen or more, they are determined to impress their lovers, and are willing to fork out no-nonsense money to succeed.

The average price for a standard box of cupcakes runs around Rp 250,000 (US$25.79).

Another cupcake company with outlets in major shopping malls, Chocolate Amore, sells boxes of four candy-colored cupcakes at a price of Rp 100,000. Its bestseller, the red velvet cupcake, comes in a heart shape this season, decked in a pink box with pink satin ribbon.

Conquering all

Historically, Valentine’s Day started out as a Christian and ancient Roman pagan tradition, but it is now celebrated worldwide as the internationally acknowledged day of love, with hearts, flowers and sweet nothings in abundance.

Although the day primarily owes its popularity to marketing gimmicks, it’s never too hard to sell the idea of sharing love, including in trend-conscious, internationally savvy Jakarta and other major cities of Indonesia.

And that is despite recent attempts by some fundamentalists to ban observance of the day. In 2011, the Indonesia Ulema Council issued a stance that permits celebration of the day as long as it doesn’t breach Islamic teachings, even though it does not recognize the observance.

Today, Valentine’s Day is more popular than ever. The reality is that many Indonesians do enjoy celebrating it with each other. Naturally, with that spirit of generosity, comes the necessary spending to make the one we love feel wanted and, well, loved.

Last year, the Indonesian Cocoa Industry Association reported a 10 percent growth in demand, partially attributed to higher consumption ahead of Valentine’s Day. Gifts of pampering are also popular, with many hotels, spas and restaurants offering special packages for couples to please and be pleased.

It’s the season when romance and indulgence go hand in hand.

For Kris (not his real name), 27, this Valentine’s Day will be more special than ever. In the next few months, he plans to propose to his girlfriend of two years.

She doesn’t know it yet, but she’s in for a yearlong surprise, starting with a romantic dinner on Valentine’s Day.

“I don’t usually celebrate the day, but since this is a special phase in our relationship, I’d like for it to be special,” says the business manager at a major computer company.

Special is also the keyword at Le Soho Cupcakes, where ahead of February each year members of the creative team brainstorm romantic ideas, daring each year to be better than the last.

The theme this year centers on a classic Valentine’s Day symbol. “This year we’ll be using heart-shaped boxes for heart-shaped cupcakes,” says an excited Sophie. “It’s all about hearts and flowers.”


From: The Jakarta Post

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