valentines chalkboard globe project I love you around the world WM

Spreading the Love Worldwide – How V-Day is Celebrated Around the Globe

Was Sup   •   February 11, 2015   •   0 Comment

Ahh, the day of love is upon us and hopefully you got your loved one a gift or planned a special day for the two of you. Its very easy to get caught up in the gift giving and shelling out tons of money for fancy dinners and expensive jewelry. Western Culture sometimes takes the love out of the holiday and replaces it with stuff. No matter what you have planned, it’s a declaration of love and appreciation that should be celebrated on this day. Let’s go around the world and see how other countries celebrate this day of love.

Norfolk, England
Only the people of Norfolk have a Valentines-Santa. His name is Jack Valentine and he goes around to all the children’s homes to knock on the door and leaves little treats and gifts on the steps. It’s not known how this tradition started, but it is carried from generation to generation.

Latin America
Día del Amor y la Amistad or The Day of Love and Friendship honors not just lovers, but also friends. It is quite comment for people to perform acts of appreciation toward their friends. Due to Carnival being celebrated in February or early March, Día de Amor is celebrated in June, making Brazil a popular spot for Western singles to escape the lovey-dovey at home.

Valentines Day, or Qixi Festival, comes from the Chinese tale of the Weaver Girl and the Cowherd. The Weaver Girl was the 7th daughter of the Emperor of Heaven and the Cowherd was an mortal who worked in the fields. Their love was not allowed, and so they were banished to opposite sides of the Silver River. Once a year, on the 7th day of the 7th lunar month, a flock of magpies would for a bridge to reuite the lovers for one day.  In The Middle Kingdom, men tend to give their loved ones flowers and chocolates. But, since V-day is close to the Lunar New Year (or Chinese New Year), it is celebrated in August.

South Korea + Japanblackday
The South Koreans have a Valentines tradition that spans three months. On February 14th, women give men chocolate. A month later, men give women a different type of candy on March 14th, or White Day. Black Day, or April 14th, those who did not receive anything celebrate their loneliness by eating black noodles. The 14th of each month marks a love-related holiday, but most are obscure, like Candle Day, Wine Day, Movie Day and Hug Day for example. Chocolate is the main focus of the Japanese Valentines Day and many chocolate companies make half their annual sales leading up to the holiday. The custom that only women giving men chocolates came from a translation error during an early chocolate campaign, therefore, many ladies in offices gave their co-workers chocolate. In the 1980’s, the Japanese chocolate companies ran a successful campaign to make March 14th a “reply day” where men are to return the favor. Greeting cards, candies, dinner dates and flowers are quite uncommon in the Land of the Rising Sun.

Also called St. George Day, the holiday is associated with agriculture and the beginning of spring and celebrated on the 12th of March. This is when the birds are merry and they get ready to wed, meaning spring is coming and love is in the air. Work on the farm can also begin since the Sun is staying out longer. An old tradition of lighting a lantern and watching it float away in the stream symbolizes that light isn’t needed for daily tasks anymore.

The Norwegians and Danish refer to February 14th as Valentinsdag but do not celebrate to a large extent, but have created a quirky tradition. Men send women little love poems, or Gaekkebrev, anonymously on Valentines Day with only the numbers of letters in the senders name as a clue. If she guesses correctly, she wins an Easter Egg on Easter. If she’s wrong, she gifts her sender an Easter Egg in return. In Sweden it is called Alla hjärtans dag or All Hearts Day. The holiday started in the 1960s by the flower industry and the push of Americana culture. Valentines Day is recognized in Scandinavia, but is not an official holiday.

Middle East
Many countries in the Middle East have banned Valentines Day saying the holiday encourages behavior frowned upon by Islamic beliefs. However, in Pakistan, the practice of exchanging flowers, especially roses, has gained popularity with urban youth. Iranians celebrate the Sepandarmazgan, a festival where people express love toward their mothers and wives as well as a celebration of Earth. Unfortunately, Western culture has overtaken Sepandarmazgan and Iran’s Cultural and National Phenomena has been advocating that February 17th be a national holiday for the Sepandarmazgan festivities.

Remember, if you do get a gift, get them something they want off their Gitcha list!