BY KATHARINA – It’s no secret that different countries have different customs. But have you ever thought about how this applies on Valentine’s Day? We all know that the day of love is a big deal in the USA – the countless romantic comedies to come out of Hollywood have taught us that if nothing else. But how do loved-up couples celebrate the occasion in other countries? Sounds like it’s about time for a quick trip around the world to find out…
Stereotypes have the Italians down as creatures of intense passion and above all as temperamental. And proof of this is delivered year after year in the form of a huge spring festival. People exchange poems and gifts including traditional “Baci Perugina” hazelnut-crowned chocolates that are wrapped in a love note written in four languages.
There is no denying that Paris is the City of Love! That alone would be enough to win France the Valentine’s Day crown but on top of that the tradition of sending cards apparently originated over the Channel too. It is said that hundreds of years ago the Duke of Orléans wrote a poem in a card which he signed “Your Valentine”. We don’t know whether there is any truth to that story but it stands to reason that this is what made the French start sending home-made cards bearing the same signature on 14 February.
People who are in love and close to one another exchange the likes of snowdrops, floral hearts, chocolates, poems and riddles on Valentine’s Day. Unlike elsewhere, senders remain anonymous in Denmark and Sweden along with some other countries. There, if you are lucky enough to receive a gift, you have to guess who sent it. If you get it right, there will usually be some form of reward waiting for you. Time to get sleuthing over in Scandinavia!
Valentine’s Day is a major event in South America and especially in Argentina. I’m not joking – celebrations last for a whole week over there! Love is the order of the day between 14 and 21 February in Argentina. And just in case that’s still not enough, they do the whole thing again in July during “Sweetness Week”, when close friends, family and partners give each other gifts of chocolate and sweeties.
As you’re probably aware, February is reserved for Carnival in Brazil. There just isn’t any place for Valentine’s Day during the same month, so Lovers’ Day (Dia dos enamorados) is celebrated on 12 June instead. The occasion is marked by giving flowers, chocolates and cards – just like we do here in Germany.
In China, Valentine’s Day is called “Qixi Festival” or the “Double Seven Festival”. The story behind it features a cowherd and a fairy whose love was simply not meant to be. This romantic tale ends in tragedy when the two star-crossed lovers are separated by a river in the sky. It is said that they are able to be reunited in each other’s arms once a year – on the seventh night of the seventh moon, Valentine’s Day.
In Japan, Valentine’s Day is all about the chocolate! But, more importantly, it is only the men that are given gifts. Women have two types of chocolate to choose from for the men in their lives: Giri Choco is the chocolate that women give to men if they have no romantic connection to them. This could include friends, colleagues and even supervisors and bosses. Honmei is the more expensive type of chocolate that women only give men if they have romantic feelings for them. So this gift is reserved for spouses, life partners and even potential steady boyfriends. I know what you’re thinking… it’s shocking that the women get nothing! But there’s no need to worry! White Day is just one month later and then it is the men’s turn to give the ladies something sweet.
Celebrations in Korea are more or less the same as in Japan. The only difference is that the Koreans also have “Black Day” on 14 April. This is when everyone who is single eats “Jajanghmyeon” noodles with black sauce and dresses in black to express their sorrow about their single status. Obviously, it’s all a bit tongue-in-cheek!
Valentine’s Day is an important occasion on the calendar in Taiwan, too. And, of course, in this land of beautiful flowers, floral gifts are non-negotiable! But this hasn’t cut the mustard for some time now and so they do Valentine’s Day all over again on 7 July. No matter where you are in the world, you can expect Valentine’s Day to go roughly along the same lines. On that day, people are busy expressing their love in every corner of the globe – despite all of the other cultural differences. Some people cringe at the thought of Valentine’s Day and find the whole thing really cheesy… but I bet that even they would be secretly thrilled to get a small token of appreciation.
No matter where you are in the world, you can expect Valentine’s Day to go roughly along the same lines. On that day, people are busy expressing their love in every corner of the globe – despite all of the other cultural differences. Some people cringe at the thought of Valentine’s Day and find the whole thing really cheesy… but I bet that even they would be secretly thrilled to get a small token of appreciation.
Why not get some inspiration here and find the perfect gift to give your Valentine!