Valentine’s Day Around the World: How 14 Countries Celebrate the Day of Love
Valentine’s Day is now widely celebrated all over the world. Its origins are still unclear and there are several legends about the beginning of this celebration of love. One of the most popular stories says that it all began in the 17th century when a Roman priest married a couple in secret. As the years went by, the celebration of romantic love took its fated path and became an annual commemorated day (aka Valentine’s Day) with various fascinating traditions across the globe. Read on to discover when and how people across the world celebrate their Valentine’s Day.
Chinese people celebrate the day of love on the seventh day of the seventh lunar month which usually falls during early August. The day is called Qixi. During the festival, the tragic love story of Zhinu, a heavenly king’s daughter, and Niulang, a mortal, is remembered.
The lore tells when Zhinu and Niulang fell in love and married. Consequently, Zhinu’s father was infuriated that he created the Milky Way to separate the two lovers. Zhinu became the Vega star that lies on the east, and Niulang was left as Altair on the west. The only time they meet is during the Qixi Festival.
The Qixi tradition is commemorated by Chinese women through carved melon offerings which, according to beliefs, will bring them good husbands. Couples also visit temples to pray for prosperity and happiness.
Flowers speak the language of love in Taiwan. During Valentine’s men gift bouquets of flowers to their dear ones. The number and color of the flowers relay specific messages. The Day of Love is celebrated twice in a year by the Taiwanese — on February 14th and on July 7th.
Japanese Valentine’s involves chocolates. The women get the ball rolling on February 14 by giving the obligatory giri choco to their male friends. For the men they wish to show affection to, women offer honmei choco or the “true feeling” choco and a handmade gift. A month later, during White Day, men are obliged to return the thoughtfulness by giving chocolates and gifts to women. Love is a two-way street after all.
4. South Korea
Valentine’s is prolonged in Korea having a duration of 3 months (February to April). The gift-giving begins on the 14th of February when women pursue men with chocolates and flowers. Come the 14th of March, White Day happens and it’s the men’s turn to show some love to their sweethearts with gifts.
Those who are single still get to celebrate romantic love the bittersweet way. April 14th is Black Day to Koreans, and single friends get together to eat jajangmyeon (black noodles).
5. South Africa
South African women literally wear their hearts on Valentine’s Day. As tradition goes, they pin the names of the men they love on their clothing sleeves. It is a custom they have come to adopt from the Romans.
Valentine’s Day in February is sort of skipped in Brazil. What they celebrate instead is Dia dos Namorados or Lovers’ Day every 12th of June. Lovers gift each other with chocolates, flowers, cards, dinner. In some cities and towns, music festivals are held for all couples, friends, and families to attend.
On the other hand, single women write the names of men on paper on the night of Lovers’ Day in hopes of attracting their love. This is a ritual called simpatias or enchantments. The following day, June 13th during the feast of Saint Anthony, the patron saint of marriage and matchmaking, the single women who have participated in simpatias draw a paper from the list to reveal the name of their future husband.
Argentinians celebrate love more than once a year: one day in February and another seven days in July. The latter is called Sweetness Week. Between the 13th and 20th of July, lovers exchange candies, and kisses. The last day of the week is called Friendship Day which permits friends to exchange gifts in the name of love.
Dia de San Valentin is Valentine’s Day in Chile, and the romantics await it every year. The celebration though is humble and simple — quality stroll around beautifully decorated cities and towns and dinner dates.
Pigs are huge during German Valentine’s Day. The pig, to them, is a symbol of love, luck, and lust. And so, gifts in the shape of pigs are exchanged — photos, figurines, and chocolates. Alongside the symbolical pig, Germans bake and eat big heart-shaped ginger cookies which contain romantic phrases to celebrate love’s special day.
France keeps its reputation as one of the most romantic places in the world. Lovers from all over the world flock Paris to celebrate Valentine’s Day. Most pop THE question in front or on the Eiffel Tower. The village of St. Valentin is also filled with flowers for lovers and tourists to visually enjoy.
French lovers, though, exchange cards and love notes, called cartes d’amities, on this special day. The practice of writing Valentine’s card is believed in history to have originated in France. The first Valentine’s card was signed by Charles, Duke of Orleans in 1415. The card containing his poem was sent to his wife when he was imprisoned in the Tower of London.
Valentine’s in Italy coincides with the Spring Festival. The youth gather in gardens to read poetry and enjoy music. Afterwards, they take romantic strolls with their lovers. They also exchange baci perugina, a box of hazelnut chocolates usually wrapped with a romantic quote printed in 4 languages.
For those who are yet to find the love of their lives, waking up before dawn is an old tradition. Italian women, in particular, wake up to spot for their future husbands. The first man they see on Valentine’s Day is believed to become their husband within a year.
Valentine’s Day in Slovenia also happens during spring. Thus, St. Valentine is considered there as the patron saint of spring. The belief is that birds in fields mate and marry on Valentine’s Day (February 14th). Watching the sight is open to all but traditionally you have to do it barefoot in frozen fields.
Love is also celebrated in Slovenia during St. Gregory’s Day (March 12th).
Danish men opt for a witty way of expressing feelings to their love interests. On Valentine’s Day, a man may send gaekkebrev or joking letter containing a funny poem. They sign it off with anonymous dots. If the woman he sent it to figures out who the sender is, she is to expect an Easter egg later in the year.
White flowers called snowdrops are also a favorite manner of love expression among Danish people.
January 25th, the feast of St. Dwynwen, patron saint of lovers, is also Valentine’s Day among Welsh people. They practice since the olden days is the gifting of carved wooden spoons of men to their female lovers. The symbols carved on the spoons are symbolical. For instance, a key may mean that a man is giving a woman his heart.
Love is all around
There is no feeling more universal than love and there is no right way to celebrate it. Independently of the way you choose to do it, make sure you make the day special for yourself and your loved one.
Featured Image Credit: Wokandapix | pixabay.com
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