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Unique Valentine's Day Traditions Around The Globe

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February 11, 2018 / International / By
Adrian Cruce

Valentine’s Day is conquering the world and it seems that in every country new traditions appear. Giving flowers and a box of candies is no longer virtually accepted as a way to celebrate the holiday. As you move around the globe you can discover so many interesting traditions that are going to inspire you, even if Valentine’s Day is so close.

Let’s take a look at how this day is celebrated in some countries with unique traditions.

Denmark

Officially, Denmark started to celebrate Valentine’s Day around 1990 but it does so with an interesting twist. Instead of the regular roses, snowdrops are exchanged. These are white pressed flowers. Also, “lover’s cards” are common. These were originally transparent and had a picture with the card giver offering a present but now all cards exchanged are known as “lover’s cards”.

If you live in Denmark you may also receive a joking letter known as gaekkebrey. It includes a rhyme or poem that is funny and that is not signed. If the woman guesses the sender she will receive an Easter egg that same year.

South Korea

In South Korea numerous couples love Valentine’s day and there are holiday variations being celebrated every single month between February and April. Gift giving will start right on February 14 but it is the women that offer men flowers, candies and chocolates. On March 14 (a day referred to as White Day), men will shower love interests with flowers, chocolates and gifts. On April 14 there is Black Day when singles mourn solitary status. They do this by eating jajangmyeon bowls.

France

It should be no surprise to see that France has been celebrating this holiday for a really long time now. After all, it is considered to be the most romantic destination around the globe. Legend says that the very first Valentine’s card was written by Charles, Duke of Orleans. He used to send letters showing his love to his wife as she was imprisoned in 1415 in the Tower of London.

Besides offering cards, you will often see the Loterie D’Amour in France. This is when women and men fill homes facing each other. Then, turns are taken to call out each other and then pair off. The men that are not satisfied can leave and search for another woman. If the woman is left unmatched, she joins the others close to a bonfire. As the bonfire happens, women are seen burning pictures of the men that wronged them, hurling insults and swears directed towards them and men in general. This tradition enjoyed so much popularity that it was actually banned by the government, although it is still celebrated in various parts of the country.

England

England does celebrate exactly as you imagine but there are also two traditions you might not know about. In one women use 5 bay leaves, placing them on the corners of their pillows and one in the middle. This is said to make them dream the face of the future husband. The other tradition is seen in Norfolk where Jack Valentine (a character similar to Santa Claus) offers Valentine’s Day cards. Cards, small gifts and candies are left on porches after a knock by Jack Valentine.

Wales

In Wales there is no Saint Valentine celebration. The alternative is celebrating Saint Dwynwen on the 25th of January. Thewelsh offer spoons to those they love, a tradition that dates back to the seventeenth century. That was when men were carving highly intricate spoons made out of wood. They were offered to the women they loved. Various symbols and patterns were carved, every single one having another meaning. For instance, keys symbolize the heart of the man. Nowadays, the love spoons are even exchanged at other celebrations like births, anniversaries and weddings.

Philippines

At first glance there is not much difference between how people in the country celebrate Valentine’s Day and the rest of the world. The difference appears when you take a look at how many couples get married on February 14. There are numerous mass wedding ceremonies going on in the country, with the trend only becoming more and more popular in the past few years. You will see such ceremonies happening in various public areas, like malls. Alternatively, couples that want to renew vows also participate.

Italy

Because Valentine’s Day was celebrated in Italy as the yearly Spring Festival, in the past the amorous would gather in gardens in order to enjoy music and poetry. Then, they went on a stroll. The unmarried girls were waking up really early to get a glimpse of their husband. The common belief was that the very first man that was seen would end up marrying her in 1 year. Alternatively, the physical resemblance of the man would be strong with a love interest that was going to appear.

Nowadays, in Italy you see couples enjoying romantic dinners and exchanging gifts. The one gift that is really popular is Baci Perugina. This is a hazelnut covered in chocolate and wrapped with a quote that is romantic and printed in 4 different languages.

South Africa

During Valentine’s Day you will see numerous festivals in South Africa, all filled with people exchanging love tokens and flowers. Many other customs exist in various regions of the country. For instance, the ancient Roman tradition of Lupercalia is still preserved. This is when women are pinning love interest names on the sleeves of their shirts. Interestingly, this is how so many men learn that they have secret admirers. Alternatively, when no secret love interest exists, hearts are worn on sleeves.

Brazil

February 14 is not normally celebrated in Brazil. The alternative is Dia Dos Namorados, which is celebrated on June 12. Cards, flowers and chocolates are exchanged, together with various love related music performances and festivals being held. What is interesting is that it is not just the couples that exchange love gifts. During this day Brazilians share dinners and exchange gifts with loved ones, relatives and friends. The day after Dia Dos Namorados is Saint Anthony’s Day, the patron of marriage. Single women then perform simpatias, which are rituals that are said to bring a husband.


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