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Celebrate Valentine’s Day Around the World

It’s the national day of love. Happy Valentine’s Day everyone. By the end of today, we hope you will have received your heart-shaped chocolates, stuffed animals, bouquet of flowers, and whatever other  typical gifts found in the United States.

But not every country shows their love with aphrodisiacs and stuffed animals. Some eat black bean paste noodles while others exchange pigs. Yes, pigs.

Here’s a look at how Valentine’s Day is celebrated all around the world.

  1. Denmark According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark, Valentine’s Day is a fairly new holiday, only celebrated since the 1990s. Singles, couples and friends exchange pressed white flowers called snowdrops, rather than roses.

Another Danish V-Day tradition is the exchange of “lover’s cards.” Men give women a funny poem or rhyme in a gaekkebrev, “joking letter,” anonymously. The only signature is dots at the bottom of the letter and it’s up to the woman to determine the sender. If she does so, she earns an Easter egg later in the year.

  1. France As the land of love and one of the most romantic vacation spots in the world, it’s tradition to send love letters in France for Valentine’s Day. Another tradition was the loterie d’amour, or “drawing for love.” Women and Men fill houses and take turns calling out to one another and pairing off. 

Men who weren’t satisfied with their match could simply leave a woman for another. Sounds like the modern day The Bachelor or MTV’s Are You the One? The unmatched women gather afterward for a bonfire, where they burn pictures of the men who wronged them. However, this tradition became so uncontrollable, the French government banned it.

  1. South Korea Variations of Valentine’s Day are celebrated monthly from February through April, on a compilation of three holidays. In this case, it’s the woman wooing the man. On March 14th, also known as White Day, men are expected to show out with gifts and more. The third holiday, Black holiday, in April, is mainly for singles to mourn their solitary status by eating bowls ofjajangmyeon, or black bean-paste noodles.
  2. Wales The Welsh don’t celebrate St. Valentine’s, rather Saint Dwynwen, the Welsh patron saint of lovers, on the 25th of January.

The men give women carved wooden spoons to show their love for their women. The spoons have marking or carving symbolizing distinct meanings, horseshoes, which stand for good luck; wheels, which symbolize support; and keys, which symbolize the keys to a man’s heart.

  1. China The Chinese celebrate Oixi Festival rather than Valentine’s Day, on the seventh day of the seventh lunar month. Women prepare melon and other fruits, in order to find a good husband. Couples pray for happiness and prosperity at temple and watch the Vega (woman) and Altair (man) stars at night.
  2. Germany Valentine’s Day in Germany is celebrated in a rather unusual way, with a pig. Lovers exchange pigs, as it represents luck and lust. The pig can be a mini statue, in chocolate or in picture form.

Germans also make big ginger cookies in heart shapes which contain romantic phrases and messages like “Ich liebe dich” (I love you).

  1. Japan In Japan, girls give men “Giri Choco,” chocolate as an obligation but with no romantic association to male friends, colleagues, bosses, etc. How many women would buy a man a gift for Valentine’s Day with no obligation? I’ll wait.

On March 14th, also known as “White Day” boys return the gift with chocolates and more.

  1. England The day before Valentine’s Day, England women placed five bay leaves on their pillows to help them dream of their future husband porches.
  2. Philippines Valentine’s Day in the Philippines had led to a wave of sharing wedding days with other couples. Large wedding ceremonies lead hundreds of couples to gather at malls or other public areas around the country to get married or renew their vows.
  3. Italy Initially on the Day of Love, Italians celebrated Valentine’s Day as the Spring Festival, gathered outside enjoying poetry and music. Unmarried girls would wake up at the crack of dawn to spot their future husband. The first man a woman saw was the man she would marry within a year. Today, Italians exchange gifts, one of the most popular is Baci Perugina, which are small, chocolate-covered hazelnuts wrapped with a romantic quote printed in four languages.

  4. Taiwan Valentine’s Day is celebrated twice in Taiwan: February 14thand July 7th. Men are expected to give women bouquets of flowers. The color and number of flowers represent different messages.….red roses represent “an only love,” ninety-nine roses mean “love forever,” and 108 roses means “Will you marry me?”
  5. South Africa South Africans celebrate the day of love with festivals, flowers, and hearts on their sleeves. The women pin the name of their love interest on their shirtsleeves, a Roman tradition known as Lupercalia. Most of the time, this is how South African men learn about their secret admirers.
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