Valentine’s Day Around the World

Valentine's Day is celebrated in a variety of ways around the world

Valentine's Day is celebrated in a variety of ways around the world

Although Valentine’s Day is often thought of as an American commercial holiday, most countries around the world have their own way of celebrating love and affection on both Valentine’s Day and other times during the year. Some of the Valentine’s Day traditions of foreign countries are as follows:

South Korea

Traditionally, black colored noodles are shared by single friends on Black Day in South Korea

In South Korea, Valentine’s Day is one of twelve days of love celebrated on the 14th of each month throughout the year. On Valentine’s Day, traditionally women of South Korea present gifts to men. In particular, gifts of chocolate are typically given. Today, many retailers have been targeting both men and women on this day, transforming Valentine’s Day into more of a couple’s celebration. A month after Valentine’s day, on March 14, South Korean’s celebrate White Day, which is when men reciprocate gifts to the women. The majority of gifts given on this day stick to the “white” theme, and thus presents of lingerie and white chocolate are common. However, today other varieties of candy and shades of chocolate are also given. Interestingly, a month after White Day, Black Day is celebrated on April 14, and is a holiday meant for singles. On this day, single friends gather to eat black noodles and mourn not receiving gifts over the previous two months. Around this holiday, there is no promotional advertising related to the holiday.

France

Known as the City of Love, Paris the choice destination for many lovers on Valentine’s Day

Home to the city of love, Paris, France is widely considered the best location in the world to spend valentine’s Day. France is also the claimed origin of the holiday, and the first Valentine’s Day cards are believed to have been sent by the Duke of Orleans to his love. Similar to the United States, Valentine’s Day in France is a very commercial holiday full of chocolates and roses. In France, the village of St. Valentin decorates every year for its extravagant Valentine’s Day festival. Similar to Valentine’s Day cards in the US, French couples exchange love notes called cartes d’amities on this holiday of love. Historical celebrations of love in France included such events as “Loterie d’amour’ or “drawing for love” when single men and women would fill homes facing each other and the men would choose their woman from the house facing them.

China

Women go to temples during the festival to prey for prosperity and love

Originating from the legend of a weaver girl, the Chinese Double Seventh Festive, or Quixi, has widely become known as the Chinese Valentine’s Day. The holiday revolves around the Chinese tale of two lovers, Niu Lang and Zhi Nu, and occurs on the day they met. This holiday of love falls on the seventh day and seventh month of the Chinese lunar calendar, or August 7. Traditionally, on this holiday the most prevalent custom practiced is girls praying to Zhi Nu for sewing skills. To honor this god of sewing, girls hold sewing competitions and prepare fruit offerings.  The fruit offering are also offered in hopes of finding a good husband. Also, the young women pray to Zhi Nu for love. Another prominent custom is the men and women going to temples to pray for prosperity. Today in China, many of the traditions of this holiday are falling out of practice, as the younger Chinese generations have turned to favor western Valentine’s Day celebrations with cards, chocolates, and flowers.

Slovenia

This heart-shaped field near the Austrian border is a popular tourist site around Valentine’s Day in Slovenia

Slovenians celebrate St. Gregory’s Day, the Slovenian day of romance on March 12. Interestingly, February 14, the internationally accepted date of Valentine’s Day, is the first day of the year of working in the fields for Slovenians. Slovenian folk tradition says that on St. Gregory’s Day the birds in Slovenia propose to each other and marry. Such stories arose because this day of the year was traditionally the first day of spring when the days started to become longer and buds began to bloom. According to tradition, St. Gregory is a bringer of light and sunshine, so in the past Slovenian’s took up the practice of swinging flaming torches into bodies of water. This custom is still preserved in some places in Slovenia. Today, Slovenian’s practice some more universal traditions on Valentine’s Day, such as card exchanging on Feb. 14th.

S(LOVE)enia is the ideal location for Valentine’s Day”

— Rachel Maile- AMHS Senior

 

 

 

 

 

 

Denmark

Intricate and joking love letters known as “gaekkebrev” are sent by men to lovers

On Valentine’s day in Denmark, this holiday of love is also celebrated by the giving of gifts.  Specifically, residents of Denmark enjoy giving snowdrop flowers and love cards. The Valentine’s Day cards shared in Denmark are unique from other countries. Known as gaekkebrev, these cards are joking and non-serious love letters sent from men to their lovers. On these letters, men sign their name in dots, and if the recipient guesses the sender correctly, they will receive an Easter egg on Easter of that year. The letters are also typically decoratively cut with scissors, and feature tiny white flowers known as snowdrops.

 

Hopefully these international Valentine’s traditions inspire you to explore other cultures as well as develop Valentine’s Day traditions of your own.

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