In a time of uncertainty and constant change, a day to express our appreciation and love for each other has never been needed more. Thankfully, Valentine’s Day is just around the corner!
In the United States, Valentine’s Day is celebrated in many different ways. It is considered a big event in elementary schools. Every kid makes a special box, and all the students in the class will exchange Valentine’s Day cards by putting one in the box of each of their classmates. Adults will also share Valentine’s Day cards with family and friends, in addition to a small gift like candy or flowers. In the U.S., people also typically celebrate Valentine’s Day with their significant other. People in romantic relationships tend to spend the day together and exchange gifts such as flowers, chocolate, or jewelry.
Although Valentine’s Day in the U.S. has been celebrated this way for years, many countries around the world celebrate in their own, unique way. Here’s how six countries across the globe celebrate their holidays of love:
Wales has a different name and date for celebrating Valentine’s Day, but the basic concept of showing love and affection for your loved ones remains constant. The people of Wales celebrate Saint Dwynwen, the Welsh patron saint of lovers, on January 25 each year.
This is seen as a day for romantic lovers, and one of the most common gifts is called a love spoon. The love spoon became a tradition as early as the 17th century; Welsh men would carve intricate and unique designs into wooden spoons as a token of affection for the women they loved. Today, these love spoons are still exchanged for special celebrations such as proposals, weddings, and anniversaries.
Danish folk celebrate Valentine’s Day on February 14, like the U.S. However, their traditions differ slightly from those seen in America.
One popular Danish Valentine’s Day tradition is the exchange of “lover’s cards.” This is the name they give for any card exchanged on Valentine’s Day, whether it is given to a friend, family member, or significant other. Instead of giving roses, the typical flower shared on Valentine’s Day in the U.S., people in Denmark exchange pressed white flowers called snowdrops. These flowers are given to friends and lovers.
One of the most popular gifts given on Valentine’s Day in Denmark is called a “gaekkebrev,” which translates to “joke letter” in English. These are given to women by men, and it is often in the form of a poem written on special paper. The thing that makes these letters so tricky is that the men don’t sign their name at the end – instead, they use dots, with one dot to represent each letter of his name. According to tradition, if the woman receiving the card can correctly guess which man sent her the letter, that man has to give her an Easter egg that same year.
Due to Carnival being held in Brazil each year sometime during February or March, Brazilians skip the February 14th celebration and instead celebrate “Día dos Nomorados,” or “Lover’s Day,” on June 12th. This entails the usual exchange of flowers, chocolates, and cards, with the addition of music festivals and performances held throughout the country.
In Brazil, gift giving isn’t limited to couples or those in romantic relationships. This day of love is celebrated with friends and relatives, too, with the exchanging of gifts and the sharing of dinner.
Instead of celebrating Saint Valentine, the patron of Valentine’s Day, the people of Brazil celebrate Saint Anthony. Saint Anthony is known for blessing young couples with a happy and long marriage.
Valentine’s Day is a highly anticipated holiday for young couples in South Korea. Several variations of the holiday are celebrated monthly from February to April.
The celebrations begin on February 14th, where the pressure is placed on the women to please their man with chocolates, flowers, and candy. Everything is switched one month later on March 14th, a holiday known as “White Day,” when men are expected to woo their women. Men not only give their sweethearts flowers and chocolates, but they’re expected to go a step further by purchasing her a gift.
The final holiday takes place on April 14th, a day known as “Black Day.” This day is dedicated to people who don’t have a significant other to celebrate Valentine’s Day with. On Black Day, it’s said that singles mourn their solitary status by eating dark bowls of jajangmyeon, or black bean paste noodles. Some may even go the extra mile and wear all black on this special mourning day.
It is believed that the first ever Valentine’s Day card originated in France when Charles, the Duke of Orleans, sent his wife love letters during his imprisonment inside the Tower of London in 1415. The tradition of giving our loved ones handwritten cards is alive and well today, centuries later. Some would say it’s a staple of celebrating Valentine’s Day.
A historic French Valentine’s Day event was known as “loterie d’amour,” which translates to “drawing for love.” During this event, men and women would congregate in a large house and take turns calling out to each other and pairing off as couples. Men who weren’t satisfied with their match could leave their woman for another, and women left unmatched at the end of the day gathered together for a bonfire. Of course, this tradition doesn’t still take place today; the French celebrate in a way that many other countries do, with the exchange of cards, flowers, and chocolates.
Like many other countries, South Africa celebrates Valentine’s Day with flowers, cards, and other tokens of love. It is also customary for festivals and celebrations to be held throughout its many cities.
It’s tradition for women to wear their hearts on their sleeves on this day, so to speak. Women pin the names of their crush or love interest on their shirt sleeves, which is an ancient Roman tradition known as Lupercalia. In many cases, this is how men can discover who their secret admirers are.
At the end of the day, each of these celebrations and traditions are about one thing: showing the people in your life how much you appreciate and love them. Regardless of how you celebrate Valentine’s Day, remember to give extra love to those who matter this year.
By Maddie Eden