As Valentine’s Day is just a few days away, we thought we would look into how a few different countries around the world celebrate this day of love.
In England, we tend to send loved ones cards, flowers and gifts but Valentine’s Day takes a whole new meaning in other areas of the world.
In Denmark, Valentines is a relatively new celebration. Friends and lovers exchange white flowers called snowdrops which are often pressed onto cards. Men also given women a gaekkebrev – “joking letter” – it consists of a funny poem or rhyme and is signed with anonymous dots. If a woman correctly guesses the sender, she earns herself an Easter egg later that year.
2. South Korea
Valentine’s Day is popular for young couples in South Korea; variations of the holiday are celebrated monthly from February to April. The gift-giving starts on Feb 14th where women have to ‘woo’ their men with chocolates and flowers. The tables turn on March 14th, a day when men match the gift of flowers and chocolates and then also give a gift! For those who don’t celebrate this holiday in South Korea there is a third holiday called ‘Black Day’ on April 14th. It is customary for singles on this day to mourn their solitary status by eating dark bowls of jajangmyeon – black bean-paste noodles.
As France is often described as one of the most romantic destinations around the world, it’s little wonder it has long celebrated Valentine’s Day. Cards are a popular tradition in France. Another tradition in France is loterie d’amour – drawing for love. Men and women would fill houses that faced one another, and then take turns calling out to each other and pairing off. Men who weren’t satisfied with their match could simply leave a woman for another, however the women left unmatched gathered afterward for a bonfire. Eventually this tradition had to be banned by the government as the bonfire event became so uncontrollable.
In Austria, it is customary for a young man to give his beloved a bunch of flowers on February 14th.
In Wales, Valentine’s Day isn’t celebrated – instead, people celebrate Saint Dwynwen, the Welsh patron saint of lovers on Jan 25th. A traditional Welsh gift is a love spoon; since the 17th century men carved intricate wooden spoons as a token of affection for the women they loved.
Originally, the Italians celebrated Valentine’s Day as the Spring festival where the young gathered outside in gardens to enjoy poetry readings and music. Afterwards they would take long walks with their lovers. Another tradition was for the young, unmarried girls to wake up early and spot their future husbands; the belief being that the first man a woman saw on Valentine’s Day was the man she would marry. Nowadays, one of the most popular gifts on this day is Baci Perugina which are small chocolate-covered hazelnuts wrapped with a romantic quote printed in 4 languages.
If you are single and don’t want to think about a partner then Finland may be the place for you this Valentine’s as they tend to focus on their friends, sending small cards and gifts to show appreciation for their friendship.