In the Western World we give red roses, chocolates, even jewellery to those we love or have affection for. We send card adorned with red hearts, cute animals and words or romance and desire. But what do the romantics in other countries of the world do on Valentine’s Day? Do they even celebrate it and how do they show their love for one another on this day?
Valentine’s Day started as a Christian celebration in Rome, for one of a number of saints named Valentinus. It was only after Chaucer romanticized the day in a poem in 1382 that it became a celebration of romantic love and people really began to take notice and remember the day as something special.
In time, the Victorians made the day more and more popular and began to mass produce Valentine’s Day cards. This soon spread across the Atlantic to the Americas. It soon grew into the huge marketing industry of flowers, chocolates and cards we all know and some love to this day.
So here’s some of the different celebrations from a few places in the world, some are similar but some are very different to what you may already experience in your country.
On this day it is customary for people to name the first eligible person they met on Valentine’s Day as ‘Valentine’. After this, they are supposed to give a gift to their newly meet ‘Valentine’ and pay particular attention to them for a year.
However these days it’s just shared between those already with one another or with someone that a person may desire. In the UK/USA gifts such as flowers, chocolates and stuffed toys are given to show affection. Sometimes the cards and gifts are given anonymously making it so the recipient has to guess who their Valentine is.
In Germany, Valentine’s Day focuses more on adults, it’s not something that children or younger people are involved with. Valentine’s Day was not celebrated in Germany until after World War II. One of the symbols for Valentine’s Day in Germany is a pig this is because it represents luck. Because of this many gifts given, like flowers and chocolate come with a toy pig as well.
Japan is very different in the way Valentine’s Day is celebrated because it actually happens on two different days. On the 14th of February, women give chocolates to the men they desire. There are two different types of chocolates given, Giri Chocolate, which is given to friends and colleagues and Honmei Chocolate, which is given to men they love. After this on the 14th of March the men then do the same to their female friends or women they desire.
In Finland Valentine’s Day is called Ystävänpäivä which literally means “Friend’s Day”. Finnish people focus on their friends and in some cases their families, instead of their partner or spouse. They send small token gifts and cards to one another to show gratitude and the worth of the friendships they have with one another.
One of the more unusual activities on Valentine’s Day came from France. Valentine’s Day was seen as a day of freedom for women, this meant that they could easily dissolve a relationship or even cheat on their husband or partner and not face any consequences for their actions. This is outdated now however and they seem to have a more traditional view on the holiday instead.
The Dia dos Namorados or “Lovers’ Day” is celebrated on the 12th of June. This is because that is the day before Saint Anthony’s day, known in Brazil as the saint of marriage. The typical February 14th Valentine’s Day is not celebrated at all because it usually clashes with the Brazilian carnival which lasts a week and is a main focus for them.