Valentine’s Day Around the World
by Cassandra Carr
I know were a week away until Valentine’s Day, but I thought I’d give a little information on the cool rituals associated with Valentine’s Day all over the world. A few years ago I was actually in Hong Kong over Valentine’s Day. One of the colleagues from my hubby’s office invited us to a sort of country club-type place that he belonged to and we had dinner there. The women received flowers upon entering, along with a couple of chocolates, so really, it didn’t seem all that different from how we celebrate here in the United States. That got me to thinking – does the whole world celebrate Valentine’s Day the same way, or do the traditions in Hong Kong skew toward the British/American way of celebrating?
I found this fascinating website with information on how different countries celebrate the day. It’s at http://www.novareinna.com/festive/valworld.html if you want to see it for yourself. I’ll share just a few:
Britain- One uniform custom is the singing of special songs by children, who then receive gifts of candy, fruit or money. In some areas, valentine buns are baked with caraway seeds, plums or raisins.
Denmark- One custom in Denmark is for people to send pressed white flowers called Snowdrops to their friends. Danish men may also send a form of valentine known as a gaekkebrev (or “joking letter”). The sender of this gaekkebrev pens a rhyme but does not sign his name. Instead, he signs the message with dots…one dot for each letter in his name. If the lady who receives the card guesses the name of the sender, then she is rewarded with an Easter Egg later in the year.
Germany- In Germany, it has become customary for the young man of a courting couple to present his beloved with flowers on February 14. Valentine gifts in Germany are usually in the shape of love tokens, complete with endearing messages.
Japan- In Japan, Valentine’s Day is celebrated on two different dates…February 14 and March 14. On the first date, the female gives a gift to the male and on the second date…known as White Day and supposedly introduced by a marshmallow company in the 1960s…the male has to return the gift he received on February 14. Thus, strictly speaking, a Japanese female has the luxury of actually choosing her own gift. Chocolate is the most popular gift in Japan. However, since most Japanese females believe that store-bought chocolate is not a gift of true love, they tend to make the confection with their own hands.
Korea- The traditional gift of candy takes place in Korea on February 14, but only from females to males. There is another special day for males to give gifts to females and this is celebrated on March 14. Very similar to the custom in Japan, March 14 in Korea is known as “White Day.” On “White Day,” many young men confess their love for the first time to their sweethearts.
Taiwan- Valentine’s Day is celebrated in Taiwan on February 14, but there is also a special Valentine’s Day on July 7 of the lunar calendar, based on an ancient Chinese folktale. Both dates are equally as important. Many men purchase expensive bouquets of roses and other flowers for their sweethearts on these days. According to Taiwan tradition, the color and number of the roses holds much significance. For example, one red rose means “an only love,” eleven roses means “a favorite,” ninety-nine roses means “forever,” and one hundred eight roses means “marry me.”
I wouldn’t mind getting one hundred eight roses!
What traditions do you follow on Valentine’s Day?
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