With Valentine’s Day approaching in almost a month, stores are already flooded with hearts, chocolates and stuffed animals. Generally, outlets stacked up with teddy bears and chocolates are typical Valentine’s Day fare, but not every country is crazy about greeting cards and the typical heart-shaped candies.
Residents of some places exchange wooden spoons and pressed flowers, while others mourn their single lives. Crazy, isn’t it?
There exist several anecdotes about St. Valentine and Valentine’s Day and the similarity is that St. Valentine was a priest in Roman times who married young couples secretly. No matter what the true story is, the universal truth is that love is a global phenomenon and people do celebrate Valentine’s Day in their own sweet way.
Let’s take a look at how these countries celebrate Valentine’s Day.
The country has embraced 14th February with a Danish twist and rather than roses, Danish people exchange pressed white flowers which they call snowdrops. Also people here exchange ‘lover’s cards.’
On this day, men also give women gaekkebrev – a “joking letter” that consists of a funny poem or rhyme and signed only with anonymous dots. If a woman (receiver) correctly guesses the sender, she earns herself an Easter egg later that year.
Known for its fashion, Eifel Tower and of course Love, Paris is heaven for lovers. It’s been said that the Valentine’s Day card originated in France when Charles, Duke of Orleans, sent love letters to his wife while imprisoned in the Tower of London in 1415.
Another traditional Valentine’s Day event here was the loterie d’amour, or “drawing for love.”
In this event, men and women would pair off and the men dissatisfied with their match simply leave a woman for another. Later the deserted women would burn pictures of the men who wronged them during bonfire and hurl insults at the opposite sex. The event was later on banned by the French government.
3. South Korea
Young couples in South Korea have a triple celebration from February through April. February 14 is observed as a day when women woo their men with chocolates, candies and flowers. Then on March 14, known as White Day, men shower their sweethearts with chocolates, flowers and a gift.
And those who don’t fall in eligibility criteria of either Valentine’s Day or White Day, observe Black Day on April 14th, where all the singles mourn their solitary status by eating dark bowls of black noodles. Quite funny!
People in Wales celebrate Saint Dwynwen, the Welsh patron saint of lovers, on January 25. One traditional romantic Welsh gift is a love spoon where Welsh men carved intricate wooden spoons as a token of affection for the women they loved. How adorable!
China has its own Valentine’s Day – Qixi, or the Seventh Night Festival, which falls on the seventh day of the seventh lunar month each year. As story goes, a heavenly princess Zhinu fell in love with a poor cowherd Niulang, and had twins post marriage.
When Zhinu’s father learned of their marriage, he sent his queen to bring Zhinu back to the stars. But after hearing the cries of Niulang and the children, the king allowed the couple to meet once a year on Qixi.
During Qixi, young women prepare offerings to Zhinu in hopes of a good husband. Couples also head to temples to pray for happiness and prosperity.
On the Valentine’s eve, English women used to place five bay leaves on their pillows (one at each corner and one in the center) to see their future husband in their dreams.
While Valentine’s Day celebrations in the Philippines are akin to those in Western countries, mass wedding ceremonies on February 14 have gained popularity in the Philippines in recent years.
A romantic dinner is one way to celebrate Valentine’s Day in Italy. The lovebirds gather outside to enjoy poetry readings and music before taking a stroll with their beloved.
Today, Italians celebrate Valentine’s Day with gift exchanges between lovers and romantic dinners. One of the most popular Valentine’s Day gifts in Italy is Baci Perugina, which are small, chocolate-covered hazelnuts wrapped with a romantic quote printed in four languages.