February 14th is tomorrow, and in the western world this is the cue for indulging in chocolate, going on dates, and enjoy cutesy gifts that represent love. However, in other countries this event is celebrated a little differently, with a wide array of fun gifts and customs that you can incorporate to your holiday or keep in mind if you’re traveling around this date.
Here are some of the best St. Valentine’s Day traditions from around the world you might want to know!
Best St. Valentine’s Day tradition #5: England’s customs
While the British also celebrate Valentine’s Day with candies and thoughtful gifts, some unique and curious traditions take place in each corner of the country. In some places, children are in charge of performing special songs and rewarded with small gifts; in others it’s traditional to bake buns with seeds or raisins, as a way of prompting fertility, and in regions of Norfolk, they believe in a Santa Clause-like character known as Jack Valentine, whom leaves presents for kids.
However, the most popular tradition is to write poems and verses for loved ones, as a way of honoring the work of British writers, whom penned some of the most iconic romantic poems of all times.
Best St. Valentine’s Day tradition #4: Lover’s cards
Sending a card to your better half is a common custom in most countries, but in Denmark, these items are quite unique. Originally, they were transparent cards that showed a picture of the lover when placed in the sun, while nowadays they tend to be regular cards, but with a more colorful and extravagant design.
Denmark is also known for its gaekkebrev, or joking letter. In this tradition, men write a funny rhyme to their loved ones, and leave only a clue of what their name is. If the recipient guesses the name of the sender correctly, she is then rewarded with a gift.
Best St. Valentine’s Day tradition #3: Seven Sister’s Festival
Unlike the rest of the world, Chinese people celebrate Valentine’s Day on the 7th day of the 7th lunar month with the Festival of the Double Sevens or Seven Sister’s Festival. In this event, Chinese couples and single people visit the Temple of the Matchmaker to pray for prosperity and happiness, while young unmarried maidens pray for maturity and for acquiring domestic skills.
The festival also include small customs that can help with fertility, such as decorating an ox’s horn with flowers, or women washing their hair to make it look fresh for the event.
Best St. Valentine’s Day tradition #2: Single Awareness Day
Although it’s not a celebration of Valentine’s Day per se, this humorous tradition has become increasingly popular as an alternative for those who want to escape from the February 14th celebrations. Celebrated during the same day as Valentine’s Day by some, or on February 15th by others, this worldwide holiday induces those who are not in a relationship to engage in solo activities for their own amusement.
Nowadays, people are encouraged to dress in dark colors and visit countries where Valentine’s Day is not celebrated on that day, such as Brazil; or work as a volunteer to help others during the date.
Best St. Valentine’s Day tradition #1: White Day
In many Asian countries Valentine’s Day is celebrated a little differently than in the US. In places like Japan and Korea, on February 14th it’s men who receive chocolate and gifts from women. These items are usually homemade, since it’s believed that something crafted by the sender will embody true love.
A month later, on March 14th, men are expected to return the favor and send chocolate and gifts to the women who presented it to them on Valentine’s Day. This is known as the White Day, and has become a very popular custom since the 60s.
In Korea, Black Day is also celebrated. This event is exclusively for those who have no romantic relationships, as it’s traditional that single friends get together and consume jajang noodles, which have a black color.
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