You may be about to order your loved one a bunch of flowers, or book a romantic restaurant for dinner, but have you ever wondered how other cultures around the world celebrate Valentine’s Day? Valentine’s Day, also known as Saint Valentine’s Day, is an annual holiday celebrated on the 14th of February. The history of Valentine’s Day is shrouded in mystery; however, we do know that February has long been celebrated as a month of romance, and that the day contains hints of both Christian and ancient Roman tradition. Whatever its beginnings, different countries have developed their own unique ways of expressing their love for their sweethearts and friends. We decided to have a look at how a few countries around the world celebrate the day of love.
Scots express their love for one another by sending cards, often anonymously, with a special Valentine’s Day message or poem. The cards are popularly known as ‘Valentines’ and are decorated with red hearts and Valentines symbols to reflect love and trust.
Valentine’s Day in the Philippines is known as a particularly lucky day for love, and as a result, it is often a day of mass weddings. Mass wedding ceremonies have gained popularity in the Philippines in recent years, leading hundreds of couples to gather at shopping centres, or other public areas around the country, to get married or renew their vows together.
Rather than roses, friends and sweethearts in Denmark exchange pressed white flowers called snowdrops. Men also give women gaekkebrev, a “joking letter”, consisting of a funny poem or rhyme written on intricately cut paper and signed only with anonymous dots. If a woman who receives the gaekkebrev can correctly guess the sender, she earns herself an Easter egg later that year.
The Welsh don’t celebrate Saint Valentine; instead they celebrate Saint Dwynwen, the Welsh patron saint of lovers, on January 25th. A traditional romantic Welsh gift is a love spoon. As early as the 17th century, Welsh men carved intricate patterns and symbols into wooden spoons as a token of affection for the women they loved. Each mark on the spoon signifies a different meaning. Love spoons are also exchanged for celebrations such as weddings, anniversaries and births.
On Valentine’s Day in South Korea, the tradition is for women to give men chocolate on the 14th of February. On the 14th of March, also known as White Day, the men then give the women a different type of sweet. Black Day, on the 14th of April, is when those who did not receive anything on either day celebrate their loneliness by eating black noodles.
With Carnival held sometime in February or March each year, Brazilians skip the February 14th celebration and instead celebrate Dia dos Namorados, or “Lovers’ Day,” on the 12th of June. In addition to the usual exchanges of chocolates, flowers and cards, music festivals and performances are held throughout the country. Gift giving isn’t limited to couples; Brazilian people celebrate this day of love by exchanging gifts and sharing dinner with friends and relatives too.
For the Ghanaian people, the 14th of February is celebrated as Chocolate Day. Restaurants offer chocolate themed menus to diners and there are many museums who showcase chocolate exhibits on this day. As Ghana is one of the world’s largest cocoa producers, it is no surprise they choose to celebrate the day of love in this delicious way!
With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, soon the British shops will be filled with chocolate hearts, stuffed teddies and bouquets of flowers. However, many countries around the world choose to celebrate Saint Valentine’s Day in a much less commercialised way. Depending on your location, you may express your love by exchanging gaekkebrev, or “joking letters”, in Demark, with carved love spoons in Wales, or by getting married en masse in the Philippines. Despite the mystery which shrouds the origins of Valentine’s Day, it is fascinating to see how different cultures have developed their own unique traditions for celebrating the day of love. Whether you’re celebrating this romantic day with your friends, or a sweetheart, why not try incorporating a new tradition on the 14th of February?