10 Valentine’s Day Traditions Across the World
The List Love post-box is ready and waiting for a flurry of Valentine’s Day cards to flood in. As we cannot wait for the most romantic day of the year, we’re providing 10 Valentine’s Day traditions from across the world.
In Italy, Valentine’s Day was originally celebrated as Spring Festival, and young, loved-up couples would meet in gardens and tree arbours to listen to poetry readings and music, and would later take a stroll with their other half.
Nowadays, Italians prefer to offer the gift of chocolate to their valentine, and it believed that the bigger the chocolate gift, the stronger the love the person has for the recipient.
Valentine’s Day only reached Denmark in the 1990s, but instead of loving couples showering their partner with gifts and chocolates, friends and partners exchange pressed white flowers, which are known as snowdrops.
When 14th February rolls around, men will present their female partners with a joki.ng letter, known as a gaekkevrev, which offers a funny poem or rhyme that’s been written on intricately-cut paper and is signed with anonymous dots. If the recipient can correctly guess the sender, she will win an Easter egg later in the year.
France is perceived as one of the most romantic countries in the world, so they’re bound to have a fair few Valentine’s traditions. One of the most popular Valentine’s celebrations is called “une loterie d’amour” that translates to “drawing of love”.
The romantic practice involves both single and women men entering houses that face each other and take turns calling out one another’s names until everyone was paired off. If a man did not like his match he could simply leave his match for another woman.
The women, however, were allowed to take their revenge, as they would later attend a big ceremonial bonfire where they would toss photos and objects of the men who rejected them, whilst they swore and cursed at the opposite sex. The Valentine’s Day practice became so popular that it has been officially banned by the French government due to the uncontrollable crowd.
Wales is a very romantic nation, celebrating Saitn Dwywen, who was the Welsh patron saint of lovers, on the 25th January. Welsh people traditionally present the object of their affection with a love spoon, and is a tradition that was born in the 17th century when Welsh men would carve intricate detailing into wooden spoons for their soul mate. They would carve a variety of patterns and symbols into the spoons to signify different meanings.
It was once a tradition in England for women to place five bay leaves on their pillows, one on each corner and one in the centre, so they would dream of their future husbands. Some also chose to wet the bay leaves in rose water before placing then on the pillows.
Norfolk is also thought to have a special visitor on Valentine’s Day: Jack Valentine. The fictional character is believed to knock on children’s doors before placing sweets and gifts on their porches.
Thousands of couples in the Philippines will attend mass wedding ceremonies in public areas to get married or renew their vows. It’s an act that’s become very popular over the past few years, with over 2,000 Filipino couples saying “I do” in mass wedding ceremonies on 14th February, 2012.
7. South Africa
Women in South Africa will figuratively wear their heart on their sleeves on Valentine’s Day, as it is customary for them to pin the names of their crush on their shirtsleeves. The ancient tradition is called Lupercalia, and is often the best way for South African men to learn who is their secret admirers.
8. Finland & Estonia
Similar to Denmark, Finland and Estonia choose to celebrate their friends on Valentine’s Day. February 14th is, however, known as ” Ystävän Päivä” in Finnish, or ” Sõbrapäev” in Estonian, and both translate in English to “Friends’ Day”. People will present cards and gifts to their loved ones, and it is also a popular day for people to become engaged or get married.
In Japan, women present men with chocolates on Valentine’s Day to express their love. Many will often offer a handmade chocolate, which is a sign that a woman views the recipient as “the one”.
Exactly one month later, on 14th March, a man will reciprocate a woman’s gift of affection with a much bigger gift. This day is known as White Day and the man’s gift is expected to be three times bigger than the one they received.
10. South Korea
Similar to Japan, South Korean women will present chocolate to men on Valentine’s Day, whilst men will offer a non-chocolate gift to women on 14th March, known as White Day.
If a person does not receive a gift on either Valentine’s Day or White Day many will often go to a Chinese restaurant to eat black noodles and mourn singledom on 14th April, known as Black Day.
The 14th day of each month marks many love-related days in South Korea, in this order: Candle Day, Valentine’s Day, White Day, Black Day, Rose Day, Kiss Day, Silver Day, Green Day, Music Day, Wine Day, Movies Day and Hug Day.