No matter where in the world, love exists.
Some celebrations are low-key while others are full-fledged feats. Let's look at
some of these festivities.
In both Canada and the United States, school-age children delight in exchanging Valentine cards with their friends. There are classroom parties with Valentine sweets and card exchanges. The students generally make fancy envelopes or boxes in which to deposit their cards. They also take great delight in creating homemade (school-made) Valentines out of red (pink, white) construction paper, other fancy papers, paper doilies (often available in a heart shape), etc. The pupils have as much fun in creating their cards as in receiving them!
Teenagers may have dances or parties while everyone, from adult down, gives flowers, candy, or some other gift to their spouses or significant others. Valentine candy is generally packaged in heart-shaped boxes sometimes decorated with lace and such.
Mexicans celebrate Valentine's Day but the day goes by another name; "Dia de San Valentin" or "Dia del amor y la armistad" is a day of love and friendship.
People living in Austria and Germany share with Americans the tradition of bestowing upon their wives presents of roses or chocolates.
In Denmark, Valentine's Day is celebrated with enthusiasm. Early Valentine cards were transparent and when held up to the light, a picture of a man handing a woman a present would be projected. Another popular gift is to give pressed white flowers known as Snowdrops (one source identifies Snowdrops as candy). A "gaekkebrev" or joking letter, sent by men, has a romantic verse in it but is not signed. Instead, the man signs his name with a number of dots that correlate with the number of letters in his name. If the object of his affection guesses his identity, she receives an Egg on Easter.
In England, Valentine's Day is celebrated in various ways. On Valentine's Day Eve, women used to practice rather strange customs. They would take their pillow and pin a bay leaf on each of the four corners and consume eggs where the removed yolks were replaced with salt! (My mouth puckers at the mere thought.) After doing this, they were confident they would dream of their future husbands. In another custom, women would write the names of their lovers on paper. These papers were put on clay balls which were dropped into water. Whichever paper surfaced first would bear the name of their future husband.
In the present, some unmarried women arise from bed before daybreak on Valentine's Day. They wait by the window, searching for a man to pass by. They feel the first man they see, or someone with a close resemblance to him, will become, within the year, their bridegroom.
Children in England sing special Valentine's songs and receive candy, fruit, or money. In some regions of England, people bake special Valentine's buns adorned with caraway seeds, plums, or raisins.
It is traditional to get engaged on Valentine's Day in Italy. Popular gifts are china baskets and cups that have been filled with Valentine's candies. Women in Italy practice the same fortune telling custom of watching for their future husbands as is done in England.
In Scotland, Valentine's Day is traditionally celebrated with a festival where unmarried males and females gather together. Each individual writes their name (or a fictitious one) on a piece of paper which is folded and then put into a hat, one for the women and a separate one for the men.
The ladies draw first and the process is repeated by the men. When the two drawn names do not match, the man is expected to pair up with the lady who had drawn his name. The man presents a gift to the lady on his paper. The women pin the name of their partner on their sleeves or over their hearts. Is this the origin of wearing one's heart on their sleeve?
In Spain, women give gifts to their husbands; men give flowers to their wives.
In China, Valentine's Day is not normally celebrated on February 14th. Rather, according to the Chinese calendar. it is celebrated on the 7th day of the 7th lunar month. On this day, lovers crowd the Temple of Matchmaker to pray for love and happiness. Singles can also come to pray. One traditional practice involves girls putting a needle on the surface of the water when the star Vega can be found high in the sky. It is time then for the girl to search for a husband. Also, this day is set aside for girls to make any wish at all.
Modern China puts a new spin on this holiday when hotels give Valentine discounts for couples. Not only is the room rate discounted but also on this day the hotels will not ask and check for marriage certificates. However, any other day of the year Chinese law requires hotels to verify marriage certificates before allowing couples to check in.
In Israel, Valentine's Day is a popular time for marriage proposals to be made. Gifts are also exchanged.
In Japan, chocolates play an important role. Women give a box of chocolates ("Giri-choko") as a token of friendship or gratitude to her boss, colleagues, and male friends. Giri-choko" translates as "obligatory chocolate."
Going a step further, a woman can express her love for that special man in her life by giving small gifts plus a box of chocolates known as "Honmei-choko" or "prospective chocolate."
In a month's time, men who have received the gift of chocolate presents the women with a box of chocolates on White Day, March 14th. These chocolates are generally either white chocolate or the candy is wrapped in white boxes. Japanese men often give gifts of lingerie or jewelry to their special women.
In Korea, Valentine's Day is celebrated much the same as it is in Japan. However, men who were not recipients of chocolates celebrate together on April 14th, or Black Day, whereupon they eat black noodles called "Jajangmyun."
Thousands of couples celebrate Valentine's Day in the Philippines by gathering together for the world record of the most couples kissing at one time. This festivity is called Lovapalooza. That's a lot of chapped lips!
Taiwan observes two Valentine's Day celebrations, one on February 14th and the other on July 7th. On these days, it is traditional to exchange roses; the color and number of roses determine the message. For example, one rose is "only love," eleven roses mean "a favorite," "forever" is the message coming with ninety-nine roses, and one hundred and eight roses signify "marry me."
In Thailand, Valentine's Day is celebrated in unique ways. Among these ways is the joining of two elephants as the world's largest bride and groom. Also included is the world's largest mass-wedding and the world's largest underwater wedding.
Love is forever, wherever you look.
About the Author