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Valentine’s Day is a highly anticipated celebration in many parts of the world. In Western society it’s most commonly commemorated through flowers, chocolates and wine, but across the world there are many other traditions you may not be familiar with.
Let us take you on a romantic trip as we uncover Valentine’s Day traditions from across the world. Let it inspire you - who knows, you might find an unusual idea for February 14!
While you know the UK reflects traditions we see at home in Australia, you may not know this country actually started the tradition of giving roses on Valentine’s Day.
Though some of their traditions were a little more unusual – especially for women. For example, unmarried girls would wake up before sunrise on Valentine's Day, stand near the window, and believe that the first man they see or similar looking men would marry them within a year. Women would also pin four bay leaves to the corners of their pillow and eat eggs with salt replacing the removed yolk on Valentine's Day eve. Further, unmarried ladies also used to write their lover's names on paper and put them on clay balls that they would drop into the water. It was believed that whichever paper came up first, that man would be their future husband.
Thanks to the countrywide carnival celebrations, for most Peruvians February 14 is a national holiday which means they have extra time to plan their loved-up itinerary and giving those in relationships even less an excuse to forget that special day. In Peru, this day of love, romance and passion is called Día del Amor y la Amistad (Day of Love and Friendship). This extends beyond just that special someone to friends, family and colleagues to show their love and affection, one way or another to celebrate their non-romantic love and exchange gifts. Though, don’t expect to see roses everywhere in Peruvian markets because orchids are the flower of choice on this major holiday.
The country has embraced February 14th with a Danish twist, where friends and partners exchange pressed white flowers called snowdrops. Here, the festival is celebrated in a very conventional manner. Another popular Danish Valentine's Day tradition is the exchange of lover's cards. These have evolved from transparent cards which showed a picture of the card giver presenting a gift to his sweetheart, it’s now any card exchanged. The season of love is also a time for fun with many Danish men sometimes sending women gaekkebrev, a "joking letter" consisting of a funny rhyme and signed anonymously with a series of dots. If the receiver can guess who sent the letter, he’ll give her an Easter egg during Eastertide.
One day is not enough to celebrate Valentine’s Day in Argentina. Argentinians dedicate one week to ‘the week of sweetness’ in July. This is more than romantic love, where the week ends with Friendship Day. Couples celebrate ‘Sweetness Week’ where they exchange kisses for sweets.
February 14 coincides with Ghana’s National Chocolate Day. Being one of the world’s leading growers of cocoa beans, the Ghana Government encouraged citizens to buy domestically produced treats and declared it National Chocolate Day. This was also an attempt to boost tourism in the country. This also promoted a more platonic approach to the festivities, and soon giving and eating chocolate became the norm. Although romance is still one of the themes of the day, chocolate gifts are not just reserved for your Valentine.
Gifting chocolates is a typical way to celebrate Valentine's day in Japan for chocolate is the most popular gift in the country. While this happens in many places, Japan does it slightly differently. Women make the first move by offering men homemade chocolates known as ‘honmei-choco’ (true feeling chocolate). The men then return the gesture of a gift on ‘White Day’, which falls a month later on March 14th. Men gift mainly white chocolate and other white-coloured gifts as a sign of their affection.
Further, most Japanese females believe store-bought chocolate is not a gift of true love. This is why they tend to make the goods themselves.