With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, it’s a great time to check out some of the different traditions from around the world!
The average annual spending for Valentine’s Day is $18.6 billion. There are 180 million card exchanges every year and more than 190 million red roses produced. And to cap it all off, there is an estimated 6 million people who are planning for a marriage proposal at this time of year.
While some people can’t really comprehend the hype of this day, the whole world still seems to unite for the universal celebration of love. But is the celebration all about couples exchanging flowers and chocolates? You may be surprised; Valentine’s Day is not just about these traditions at all. Touring the world you’ll find some different and interesting traditions, varying from one culture to another.
Japan relish in gift giving and chocolate eating. However, it’s more likely to be the women who present these gifts to men. These men may not only be their lovers, but the appreciation and gift may be extended to men in their family, friends and even bosses.
Different chocolates may signify different meanings. For example, a woman may give the chocolate called giri-choko to someone they have no romantic relationship with like their co-workers or their family. This chocolate is called obligation chocolate. For boyfriends, Japanese women may give honmei-choko. This is reserved only for their luck significant others.
Traditionally, men would express their appreciation on March 14th, the White Day. This is where men give back by gifting things three times more valuable than what they received on February 14th.
Denmark and Norway
Denmark and Norway celebrate Velentinsdag. The locals incorporate their tradition of Gaekkebrev into it. Gaekkebrev are funny little poems from significant others or crushes during Valentine’s Day. However, these notes are made anonymous, only signed by dots corresponding to the number of letters in the sender’s name. The one who receives it may need to guess who sent the card.
If the reciever guesses correctly, she may win an easter egg on an Easter day celebration. If she fails to do so, she may need to give her admirer the easter egg. Talking about unique and quirky valentines!
In Slovenia, St. Valentine is known as Zdravko, not a symbol of love but the patron saint of spring. During this day, people from Slovenia may start to work in vineyards and fields. It is also believed that during this day, the birds proposed to their loved ones and get married. The people gather and walk barefoot through fields to witness this.
Slovenia actually exchange the word of love on March 12, St. Gregory’s day.
Finland and Estonia
Valentine’s Day in Finland and Estonia literally translates to “Friend’s Day” where people exchange cards as well as gifts between friends.
Fans of the “forever alone” meme, you might want to book your mid-February vacation now to Finland or Estonia! And to those who have been friend-zoned, get in their fast; at least you’ll have a whole nation with you to celebrate!
February 14th in these two countries may not be a celebration among lovers but this day is the most popular day to get engaged. Estonia also has a “love bus” where single people can take a ride and meet other singles.
Welsh people aren’t keen on the February 14th celebration, however, they celebrating their equivalent of Valentine’s Day on January 25th. This day is a celebration of St. Dwynwen’s Day.
This old tradition is seldom practiced anymore, but some single women still do it in parts of England. During the eve of Valentine’s Day, women pin five bay leaves to the corner of their pillows and one in the center. This, they believe will let them dream of their future husbands.
Another variation of the tradition is sprinkling bay leaves with rosewater then laying them on their pillow while they say “Good Valentine, be kind to me. In dreams let me my true love see”.
It’s certainly a very different way to celebrate Valentine’s Day! So, start hunting for bay leaves and rosewater.
Aside from the bay leaves tradition of the old English people, Norfolk has a rather unique tradition too. Every Valentine’s Day, the town celebrate with Jack Valentine. Similarly to Santa Claus, Jack Valentine goes around knocking at people’s door, leaving gifts and treats for little children.
France celebrates Valentine’s Day with Une Loterie D’amour. This translates to drawing for love where single men and women enter each other’s houses that face opposite each other.
Saudi Arabia doesn’t celebrate Valentine’s Day at all! The country banned it in 2008 while mandating florists and gift shops to not to sell or to remove red items in their shops until Valentine’s Day was over. They even call it a holiday of sin that encourages immoral relations between unmarrieds.
During Valentine’s Day, South African women wear their hearts on their sleeves, literally (well, the sleeves part)! During this day, women write the name of their love interest in their shirtsleeves. It was inspired by an old Roman tradition called Lupercalia. Like in many parts of the world, many people in the country exchange the usual flowers, gifts and chocolates although single men are too busy looking at women’s sleeves to learn who their secret admirer is.
Argentines, also called Argentinians, are passionate people – it’s no wonder that one day of celebration just isn’t enough for them. Valentine’s Day is celebrated for a whole week!
In the land of the brave and kilts, one Valentine’s Day tradition stands out. It’s one festival that gathers an equal number of men and women who are singles. All will be required to write their names on a piece of paper for a lottery. These pieces of paper will be put in two hats, one for women’s names and one for men’s names. Each participant will then be drawing a name from the hat of the opposite sex. Problem is, when both group draw names, it’s likely that they will not match. To remedy this, the male partner will go to the female who has gotten his name. The couple will then split up into different couples whiles gifts will be given to the ladies. Like with the South African tradition, women will then pin their partner’s name to their sleeves. Dancing and festival will follow.
Although Valentine’s Day is widely known as a day for people in romantic relationship, we must also remember that it is a day of love in general. Valentine’s is also a day of expressing love for family, friends and people you care about. And although an emphasis on love is created during this day, showing love for those you care about should be practiced the whole year round.