Here it comes…the day when couples are expected to shower each with love and expensive gifts, while their singleton friends gather together to get drunk, defiant and depressed.
Well that’s what happens in the States, but there are many different Valentine’s Day traditions happening in different countries around the world. Here’s an insight into how different cultures celebrate February 14.
Long before Juliet was meant to be blowing kisses at Romeo from her balcony, Italians celebrated Valentine’s Day as the Spring Festival. The young and romantic would stroll arm-in-arm through gardens, resting beneath tree arbors to enjoy poetry readings and music. Today on Valentine’s Day, Italians are more likely to be exchanging gifts and chocolate over a romantic dinner. And when we say chocolate, we don’t mean a Hershey Bar. Italians believe the bigger and better the chocolate, the stronger the love you will have.
France has given the world its most romantic city, most seductive accents, and it’s sometimes claimed, its best lovers. It’s even said that the first Valentine’s Day card originated in France when Charles, Duke of Orleans, sent love letters to his wife while imprisoned in the Tower of London in 1415. Today, you’re more likely to find French people wining and dining each other than exchanging heartfelt cards on February 14.
In the UK, Valentine’s Day is when you can discover your secret admirer, or confess your secret passions for another. Sending anonymous Valentine’s cards is a tradition that dates back to Victorian times. There are also different customs across different parts of the country. In Norfolk in the west, a mysterious Jack Valentine knocks on people’s doors and vanishes, leaving sweets for children. In Wales in the east, Valentine’s Day comes just a few weeks after St Dwynwen’s (January 25) after the Welsh patron saint of lovers. In Scotland, children make Valentine cards filled with valentine rhymes. Sometimes they also write poems on the envelope, to inspire the postal worker to deliver their cards faster.
In Estonia, February 14 is called ‘Friend’s Day’, and people by exchanging presents with friends and family members. But that doesn’t mean romance is banned. Shops, restaurants and even streets are decorated with hearts and other symbols of love. Single people also get the chance ride on a special ‘love bus’ where they can meet others looking for love.
Chinese Valentine’s Day falls on the 7th day of the 7th lunar month in the Chinese calendar. It’s also called ‘Festival of the Double Sevens’, ‘The Night of Sevens’, ‘Seven Sister’s Festival’ and ‘Daughter’s Festival’. On this day, lovers visit the Temple of Matchmaker to pray for a lasting, happy marriage. Singles also visit the temple to ask for their luck in love. Other traditions include unmarried girls praying to the Weaving Maid star to become smarter and more mature, and other young girls demonstrating handcrafting skills such as melon carving. In some Chinese provinces, people decorate an ox horn with flowers to ward off catastrophe.