It is the 14th of February every year when the whole world celebrates love, affection, and friendship in different ways. It is called the Valentine’s Day. A very special day to express one’s love for another. The origin of this celebration is not yet clear, however many sources said that it is from the story of St. Valentine, a priest who was martyred around 14th of February, year 270 CE.
In the ancient ceremony, girls’ names were placed in a box and let the boys draw them out. Couples would be paired off for the entire year.
Afterwards, customs of celebrating this event evolved to sending greeting cards, messages, chocolates, teddy and teddy bears to the persons they admire. However, not all countries turn to these sweet stuffs and celebrate lover’s day for Saint Valentine on the same day. Other countries have their own saint patron of love and relationship. Surprisingly, some even mark a special holiday for the loveless to grieve for their single lives.
10 Countries Celebrating Valentine’s Day in Different Customs:
Valentine’s Day is a new holiday in Denmark. It is celebrated in the country since the early 1990s according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark. One of the most popular Danish way of celebrating is the tradition of exchanging lover’s card. In the past, these were transparent cards which showed a photograph of the card- giver offering a present to their lover.
On same day, Danish men also give women “gaekkebrev” or in English, a “joke letter”. These are written love romantic poems on a customized cut papers. Its sender is anonymous. The writer does not his name. instead, he uses number of dots equivalent to letters that consists his name. according to the Danish tradition, if the woman correctly guessed the letter sender, she’ll get an Easter egg on the same year.
China celebrated their own “Day of Love” for centuries. In equivalent to Valentine’s Day, they call this event the “Qixi Festival” or meaning “The Night of Seven”. It is celebrated every seventh day of the seventh lunar month, usually early August. This tradition originates from the story that has been passed from generations. The story is a love tragedy of two stars in the Milky Way. One of them is a fairy named Zhinu who married a mortal young man named Niulang. Their marriage was hindered by the Goddess of Heaven, who eventually made the Milky Way to separate them. It is believed that these lovers get the chance to meet each other just once a year- during the celebration of Qixi. During this time, Chinese girls offer foods for Zhinu, the ancient goddess of love and relationship to grant their wish of finding a perfect match.
It’s all about the chocolates! During Valentine’s Day, Japanese girls give two kinds of chocolates, Giri-choco and Honmei- choco.
Giri- choco is a chocolate with no romantic association. On that day, women were obliged to give this chocolate to friends, male schoolmates or co-workers.
Honmei- choco is a homemade chocolate, prepared with love. They make these chocolates and give them to their special someone top express their affection.
On the following month, 14th of March, men who received chocolates are given the chance to return the favor by giving whit-colored treats for women. This is called “White Day”. Japan celebrate this since 1978.
In Brazil, the country celebrates the love day in differently. In equivalent to Valentine’s Day, they have a huge Carnival celebration marked every 12th of June. This is called Dia dos Namorados, or Lovers’ Day. In same western way, they celebrate it with card givings, flowers, and chocolates. But instead of celebrating for St. Valentine, they celebrate St. Anthony. The saint was considered the matchmaking and marriage saint. He was a Portuguese Catholic priest who was known for helping couples with their relationship.
Just like Brazilians, Welsh do not celebrate for Saint Valentine, but for Saint Dwynwen instead. He is the Welsh’ patron saint of lovers. They celebrate during 25th of January.
Unlike exchanging flowers and chocolates, the Welsh’ trademark is their romantic tradition of giving a love spoon. This started since early 17th century. Welsh men carve special wooden spoons as a gift of love for their partners. Special patterns and symbols were carved on these spoons, signifying different meanings. Few of which are wheels as a sign of support; horseshoes as good luck; and keys which signifies the keys to a man’s heart.
Women in England have different routine. On Valentine’s Eve, they place five bay leaves under their pillow. They would wet these leaves with rose water and place one at each pillow’s corner and one at the center. This is to let them dream of their future husbands.
In Norfolk, lover’s day is celebrated uniquely through the legendary Jack Valentine. He acts as a Santa on the Valentine’s night. Children wait for him to knock on their doors and leave candies and small gifts without being seen.
In Sussek, this is a bird wedding day. A popular English poet named Geoffrey Chaucer called this holiday a day when birds choose their own match. Since then, lover’s day were always celebrated with birds.
Valentine’s Day or La Saint Valentin is also celebrated in France on February 14th. They also exchange gifts and cards.
Before, French had a Valentine custom called “une loterie d’amour” or meaning drawing for. This is where single people stand outside houses calling out for other single persons to be paired off. At the end of the day, women who were left by men for unattraction gather on a bonfire to burn images of these men who abandoned them. However, this tradition has already been banned by the French government.
Filipinos celebrate Valentine’s Day with full of love through large weddings. Hundreds of couples gather in same place to exchange their “I Do’s” at the same time. These couples who participated the mass wedding benefit on free-of-charge wedding cakes, foods, flowers, venues, banquet, and even the rings.
Mass weddings were celebrated in different provinces in the Philippines during the lover’s day. This ceremony was hosted by their municipalities mainly to help couples struggling financially and cannot afford wedding expenses.
Though Valentine’s day isn’t really considered as a Spanish holiday, it is still celebrated with exchanging of hearts, gifts, flowers, and chocolates.
During 23rd of April, love is acclaimed in Barcelona and Catalonia. This is the same day when the nation commemorates St. George’s Day or La Diada de Sant Jordi – Catalonia’s national day. It is also known as El Dia de la Rosa (The Day of the Rose) or El Dia del Llibre (The Day of the Book) where the popular Catalan saying “A rose for love and a book forever” is very prominent through giving of roses and books to their special someone.
On the other hand, Valencian people consider the 9th of October to rejoice romance, the same day they celebrate Day of the Valencian Community and the Day of Saint Dionysius, the local’s patron saint of lovers. In their tradition, men offer the ladies with Mocadora (Mocaorà). These are handkerchiefs filled with marzipan treats which were given ceremoniously to wives, mothers, or partners as a token of love appreciation.
Also one of Italian Valentine’s Day custom is young, unmarried women wake up before dawn for the reason of finding their future husbands. They believe that the first man they saw on this day will be the man they will marry within the year. Or at least will be the resemblance of the man that they’ll tied the knot.
1. South Korea
It’s all about the man. In South Korea, unlike some men from other countries, Korean men do not rush to buy gifts and write love cards for their partners on Valentine’s Day. Instead, you’ll see Korean women in lines in chocolate shops or make a perfect chocolate for the man they love.
Just like in Japan, a month after, Korean’s celebrate the White Day. Korean men who received chocolates on V-Day give white treats to women in return.
But wait, Korea does not only celebrate for relationships. While there’s Valentine’s Day and White Day for lovers, April 14th is the single people’s day. They call it Black Day. It is a custom where singles who did not receive any gifts on lover’s day mourn their loneliness over a bowl of black noodles or the “jjajyangmyeon” in a local Chinese restaurant.
Over the years, lover’s day is celebrated in different customs in commemoration for each countries’ patron of love. This can be grandiose dating on expensive restaurants and giving of expensive presents. It can be traditionally festive through Carnivals, ceremonies, costumes, and significant gifts. Or it can be just simply expressing one’s love through care and words. No matter how it is celebrated, love for others, can be for spouse, partner, family, and friends, it can be remembered everyday through simple efforts.