By Bella Zafer
While we celebrate Valentine’s Day with chocolate and flowers, some people in other countries do things a little differently ...
Wales celebrates love Jan. 25 when it is not uncommon for one to receive a “love spoon.” This tradition, dating back to the 17th century, tasks Welsh men to give their sweethearts carved wooden spoons with patterns. These patterns could resemble different ideas including keys, which symbolize the keys to the man’s heart and a horseshoe, symbolizing good luck. Nowadays, these peculiar but popular love spoons have expanded to weddings, births and anniversaries.
Finland is definitely the move for any single people this Valentine’s Day. Commonly known as Ystävän Päivä or “Friend’s Day,” people exchange cards and gifts to each other to express appreciation for their friendship. A cheery Finnish “Happy Friend’s Day!” can be heard on the streets of Finland as friends greet each other. Hats off to Finland for appreciating all relationships we treasure.
If you are in the Philippines for Valentine’s Day, you can probably witness a wedding around every corner. The tradition of mass weddings on Feb. 14 has become more and more popular recently as hundreds of happy couples gather in public places to marry or renew their vows.
Not unlike us, South Africans spend Valentine’s Day exchanging flowers and other small gifts. However, South African women also express their love with the ancient Roman tradition called Lupercalia. This tradition includes women pinning the name of their love interest on their shirtsleeves for everyone to see.
On what we would consider a more peculiar side, Germany takes a porcine approach to Valentine’s Day (a holiday reserved for adults only) by exchanging pig figurines or pictures which represent luck and lust. It would not be uncommon to see chocolate pigs lining the stores of Germany around Valentine’s Day.
In Denmark, lovers exchange snowdrops instead of roses along with humorous rhyming poems called gaekkebrev (loosely translated into “joke letter”), a tradition that has been alive in Denmark since the 18th century. Instead of signing the letters, these Danish romantics usually leave a series of dots, one for each letter of his or her name in the hopes that the recipient will be able to guess who their admirer is.
South Koreans celebrate variations of Valentine’s Day from February to April. On Feb. 14, the women are responsible for giving their sweethearts flowers and chocolate. However, on March 14, also known as White Day, men take on the task of showering their loved ones with gifts and chocolate. On a more depressing note, Black Day on April 14 is a day for sad singles to eat black noodles called jajangmyeon and mourn their relationship status.
On a less romantic note, February 14 in Slovenia marks the first day of working in the fields for the New Year. Based on the proverb, “St. Valentine brings the keys of roots,” Slovenians believe that plants begin to regenerate on this day. Some people also believe that this is the day in which birds “propose” to each other, marking the beginning of the mating season.
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