Ah, good old Valentine’s Day. Dedicated to celebrating the love you share with your better half; spoiling them with gifts – and maybe even a cheeky romantic dinner on the side. Absolute bliss…
Unless of course, you are part of my favourite ‘Single Ladies Club’ which means spending February 14th declaring your love to a full bottle of Sauvignon Blanc, accompanied by some serious Netflix binging. That’s a form of love too, right?
Valentine’s Day is often surrounded by commercialised stereotypes: red roses, candle-lit dinners, excessive amounts of heart-shaped chocolates, and (if you are me) praying for someone to slip a love letter on my desk at work.
But these stereotypes aren’t universally accepted. In fact, there are some seriously – and I mean seriously – weird and wonderful Valentine’s Day traditions that are specific to different cultures and countries. Let’s take a look at what these are. You might, in fact, find some inspiration.
The King of Romance: France
We all know that Paris is the city for lovers. Every pore of the city oozes with romance – the sights, the champagne, the oysters, and the iconic Eiffel Tower.
Valentine’s traditions in France go all the way back to 1415 when Charles, Duke of Orleans wrote letters to his imprisoned wife in London – and the traditional giving of cards has continued right up to the present day.
Now that’s a bit cute. But there was another event in France called loterie d’amour, which for reasons you are about to find out, is now banned.
In a nutshell, men and woman would cram into houses that faced each other and take turns at pairing off. What happened if a man didn’t like his match? He could choose another woman. What about the women who were dumped or left unmatched? Now, this is the best part. The women all congregated together, made a huge bonfire and burned the pictures of the men who had insulted and wronged them in life and screamed obscenities at the fire. More power to you, ladies!
The French Government eventually had to intervene and ban the bonfires because they started getting out of hand. Nowadays, France steers pretty clear of Western traditions and believes that a demonstration of love is more important than material gifts.
The South Korea Trifecta
South Korea celebrates Valentines Day – over three days. Really!
On February 14th women are expected to woo their man with candies, flowers, etc., you know the drill, and men will return the favour on March 14th.
But, there’s a third day, commonly called ‘Black Day’. It is literally a day designed for singles to drown in self-pity by eating bowls of black noodles. Singletons are supposed to mourn on this day. I think I’ll stick to the wine, thanks.
Show Me Your Heart South Africa
Modern gift-giving is a major part of South Africa’s Valentine’s tradition. However, South Africans like to wear their heart on their sleeve – and I mean that literally. Women pin the name of their crush onto the sleeve of their shirt and wear it around for the day. Often, this is how men find out who their secret admirer is.
Spooning in Wales
On Valentine’s Day in Wales – more commonly called St. Dwywen’s Day – you can expect something very special from your significant other. Clue: It’s wooden, rounded at the top and it helps you eat. Introducing the ‘wooden love spoon’, which is individually hand-carved for your loved one.
The Joke’s on You, Denmark
According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Denmark, Valentine’s Day didn’t hit the nation until the early 1990s. Now the country embraces Feb 14, but with their own unique twist. Friends and lovers exchange ‘snowdrops’, which are pressed white flowers.
Another quirky tradition is when men give women a gaekkebrev, which is known as a ‘joking letter’. In this letter, there will be funny limericks, rhymes, or poems on personalised paper. The twist? The letter is anonymous and is signed off with tiny dots. If you are lucky enough to receive a joking letter and you guess who your admirer is, you’ll get an Easter egg in April. Now, that’s some serious motivation to find the sender.
Wedding Bells in the Philippines
Filipinos are self-professed fans of the modern way of gift-giving and wining and dining. However, Valentine’s Day has now turned into the day for getting married and literally thousands of couples set their wedding date for February 14th.
But rather than having your own private ceremony, it’s a huge-scale wedding celebration where hundreds of couples get married at once. Public areas such as recreation centres, malls, and parks have been chosen to host these mass weddings. Sounds like a recipe for a great party!
After looking through these traditions, it’s fair to say that a bunch of roses is looking pretty good right now – unless you are into a ‘lovespoon’. And to all the singletons out there, make sure you celebrate your wonderful self – just skip the mourning and dig into that black-noodle soup!