In America, we all know how Valentine's Day works: it is a day to declare your undying love, sprinkled with boxes of chocolates, bouquets of roses and romantic gestures that you've saved up all year for this one very day in February. We share the history of St. Valentine, and how he made his mark in time with his own acts of love and goodwill while simultaneously taunting the single people in our lives with said exertions of our unwavering, undying love.
But much like other holidays such as Christmas, Easter and maybe even St. Patrick's Day, cultures from around the world continue to celebrate February 14 a little differently, with strange traditions coming to life that you're most likely not going to have heard of, ever.So, pull on that seat-belt and buckle up folks! Here's a few traditions from around the world you probably didn't know but you're about to find out about!
Valentine's Day in Japan
In Japan, Valentine's Day is all about pampering the men! It is tradition for the women to gift men with chocolates, specifically called “Giri-choco” and “Honmei-choco” depending on what the man means to them in their life. Giri-choco is meant to be for friends, colleagues, bosses, and close male friends, with the word 'Giri' defined as 'obligation' hence this Giri-choco has no romance involved. Honmei-choco is often given to a boyfriend, lover, or husband in order to declare their true love to these men. Japanese women often prepare the Honmei-choco from scratch as many men and women believe that purchased chocolates is not a true declaration of love.
If 'Honmei' didn't already sound like 'homemade,' I don't really know what else could make this classic Japanese tradition more clear!
What makes this holiday even more unique in Japan is 'White Day,' which falls exactly one month after Valentine's Day on March 14 and is the day that the men reciprocate gifts to the women who gave them gifts on Valentine's Day. Flowers, candies and chocolates are often colored white, thus the name 'White Day.' This day is considered very important to many women and is celebrated just as heavily as Valentine's Day is.
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Valentine's Day in Denmark
In Denmark, love notes known as 'gaekkebrev’ are swapped by young couples as part of the celebration. These notes are often romantic poems that drip of cheesy love ventures and romantic promises and are signed with dots instead of a full name. The dots equal the number of letters in the poet's name, and if the recipient of the poem is able to correctly guess the author of the poem, she will be gifted with an Easter egg on said holiday. In the event that she is unable to correctly guess her admirer, she will in turn need to gift him with an Easter egg instead.
Valentine's Day in Slovenia
In Slovenia, this day marks the first day the people are allowed to officially start working in the fields and is often observed as a spring festival in many local cities. St. Valentine is not actually considered a patron saint of love and is instead considered one of the patron saints of spring. He can also be known as Zdravko, and is more specifically the patron saint of beekeepers and pilgrims. It won't be until March 12, which is St. Gregory's Day that people celebrate their annual day of love, as this time of the year is when the “birds are merry and they get ready to be wed,” which signals that spring is coming and love is in the air.
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Valentine's Day in Estonia
In Estonia (a rather small country in northern Europe), Valentine's Day is more-so celebrated as 'friendship day,' where gifts are exchanged between friends instead of the romantic ones. Called Sobrapaev, this day in Estonia is a day for all kinds of love celebrated among peers and family members.
Valentine's Day in China
In China, because most of the Chinese culture follows the Chinese calendar, their version of Valentine's Day usually falls during the season of the annual Chinese Lantern festival. The event is characterized by its iconic red Chinese lanterns, which are lit to represent hope for the year ahead. Traditionally, the festival is one of a few days in the year when unmarried women are allowed outside without a chaperone, giving them the chance to socialize with potential suitors. Lighting lanterns is also seen as a sign of a hope for blossoming romances.
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Valentine's Day in Ghana
In Ghana, Valentine's Day is replaced by a rather scrumptious sounding yearly event: Chocolate Day. One would most likely find a lot of local Ghanaian restaurants offering chocolate-themed menus, while museums showcase chocolate exhibits throughout the day. The actual motive here is to lure tourists to the place that is one of the world's largest cocoa producers, as cocoa is at the heart of Ghana’s economy.
Perhaps something to consider incorporating into your upcoming Valentine's Day speeches to give yourself all the more reason to splurge on chocolates, amirite?[ Source ]
Valentine's Day in Germany
In Germany, Valentine's Day is celebrated by 'pigging out!' It is traditionally known for pigs to be a German symbol of love and perhaps more-so, lust. These little piggies can often been seen offering flowers, holding four-leaf clovers or even laying down on chocolate hearts in rather provocative positions. The Germans are unafraid of being as open as possible with their desires, and Valentine's Day in Germany is no different! If there were any better excuse for eating your heart out on Valentine's Day, it would be this cute little piggy excuse.
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