How Valentine’s Day Is Celebrated Around The World

You know the drill in America; when you’re little, you hand out perforated cards and hope your crush gives you one of the good ones instead of the obvious “just friends” version. And as adults, the pressure is on to have a special date night and be showered with gifts, or be forced to acknowledge that you are completely and utterly alone in the world. But, just like any other holiday, every country has its own way of celebrating. (Or not celebrating—Valentine’s Day is banned in many countries because of its evil consumerist Western roots.) Here are a few other traditions that might be fun to try.

  • Brazil celebrates its day of romance on June 12th and they call it “Dias dos Namorados,” or the Day of the Enamored. But it’s the same deal—couples exchange flowers, chocolates, and presents. It’s celebrated on the 12th of June because June 13th is Saint Anthony’s Day when single women perform “simpatias” or rituals in an effort to rope in a good boyfriend. They don’t celebrate it in February; most likely because it would be too close to Carnival, which is all about sexy debauchery and is already way cooler than our stupid holiday. [MyLatinVoice.Com]
  • South Korea has one of my favorite traditions. On February 14th or White Day, men give candy or gifts to women. Then on April 14th or Black Day, the women who didn’t get anything on White Day go to Chinese restaurants to eat black noodles and mourn the disaster that is their love life. Actually, the 14th of every month is celebrated in some love-related way in Korea. Some holidays are much more popular than others and include such gems as Kiss Day, Green Day, Wine Day, Movie Day, and Hug Day. As one South Korean woman put it, “I had a miserable time on Valentine’s Day, felt even lonelier on White Day and now I’m crying over a bowl of black noodles. Things better be different next year.” I totally stand by carbo-loading as a surefire cure for depression. [Asian Offbeat]
  • Meanwhile, Slovenia celebrates February 14th with the proverb “St. Valentine brings the keys of roots.” This is thought to be the day that plants and flowers start growing—so it’s the day that farmers and vineyard workers plant seeds. Slovenians also believe that birds get engaged or married on Valentine’s Day. Children traditionally make little boats holding candles from wood or paper and send them downstream, which is meant to symbolize the fact that they no longer need work lights since the days are longer. Meanwhile, March 12th is Saint Gregory’s Day, which was traditionally the day of love and the first day of spring until Valentine started taking over the territory. I guess there’s something sexy about agriculture. But why would birds have to get married? Are they even monogamous? [GimKr.Si]
  • In Norfolk, Britain, someone referred to as Jack Valentine brings presents and candy to the doorsteps of children and fancier gifts for adults. He knocks on the door and disappears, which freaks out some kids. As one BBC writer put it, “I hope [Jack Valentine’s] got a good lawyer. I love Jack dearly, but when Santa finds out what he’s up to there’s going to be trouble! Let’s face it—turning up out of thin air once a year, leaving presents and disappearing without a trace—it’s the same act. It’s a law suit just waiting to happen.” For the day, people traditionally run around town with a bad full of goodies, celebrating with their friends in the streets. Sounds fun. [BBC News]