Valentine’s Day around the world

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Though Valentine’s Day is typically thought of as an American holiday celebrating romantic love, people throughout the world celebrate love in all its forms in many unique ways. Take a look to see how people across the globe might be celebrating today. (Sergio Boscaino/Flickr Creative Commons)

Though Valentine’s Day is typically thought of as an American holiday celebrating romantic love, people throughout the world celebrate love in all its forms in many unique ways. Take a look to see how people across the globe might be celebrating today.

Brazil

Because Brazilians celebrate Carnival early in the year, they celebrate a Valentine’s Day-like holiday on Dia dos Namorados (Lovers’ Day) on June 12. Couples, friends and family exchange cards, gifts and flowers. They then honor St. Anthony, the saint of marriage, on June 13.

China

China does not actually hold Valentine’s Day celebrations on Feb. 14. Usually, the Chinese people celebrate love during the Qixi Festival, which occurs on the seventh day of the seventh lunar month of the Chinese calendar. The day is now celebrated in a manner more similar to western Valentine’s Day, but the traditional celebration is meant to honor two star-crossed lovers from Chinese legend.

Denmark

America’s roses and regular greeting cards are quite different from Denmark’s preferred Valentine’s Day gifts. The Danish people prefer to give snowdrops and send each other joking poems (called gaekkebrev) written on paper snowflakes. The poems are signed with a series of dots (one for each letter in the sender’s name), and if the recipient guesses who the sender is, the sender must give the recipient an Easter egg during Easter.

Finland

Instead of being only for romantic partners, Valentine’s Day in Finland is known as Friend’s Day, and people old and young all across the country celebrate their friendships by going out to eat or participating in fun activities like bowling or skating. Sending cards to friends is also popular on this day.

France

Of course, Paris is known as one of the most romantic spots on the planet and many tourists flock to France around this time. The town of Saint-Valentin also hosts an annual festival where activities include walks, dinners and dedicating a tree to one’s lover.

Italy

Italians celebrate Valentine’s Day by exchanging Baci Perugina (baci means kisses), which are packaged chocolate-covered hazelnuts. The candies’ wrapping has romantic quotes printed on it. Because Valentine’s Day is viewed as a holiday imported from America, it’s usually couples and lovers who celebrate, not children or families.

Japan

On Valentine’s Day in Japan, women traditionally give gifts of chocolate to men. Giri choco (obligation chocolate) is for friends, while honmei choco (true feeling chocolate) is for a romantic interest. Honmei choco is often homemade to show the woman’s true love for the chocolate’s recipient. Women eventually do receive gifts from men on White Day (March 14).

Philippines

Mass weddings are held on Valentine’s Day in the Philippines. The government often sponsors the weddings, which allows couples who couldn’t afford a wedding themselves the chance to get married. Cake, flowers and (sometimes) rings come with the ceremony.

South Africa

In South Africa, lovers wear the names of their beloved pinned to their sleeve. It is said this practice comes from the ancient Lupercalia festival and this is how someone discovers their secret admirer.

South Korea

South Koreans celebrate in a manner similar to the Japanese. Women first present men with gifts, and men then give gifts to women on a different holiday. Single people also get a holiday here: April 14’s Black Day, on which single people get together to eat black noodles and lament their singledom.


Stephanie Santillo is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at stephanie.santillo@uconn.edu.

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