For the romantic week that’s in it.. we have decided look at some Valentines Day traditions from around the world.
In this part of the world its all about spoiling the man… not the other way around like most western cultures! Japanese women are known to be shy & reserved when it comes to expressing their love with romantic gestures. However, on February 14th each year, the women are at the forefront of showering their men with gifts and affection, most popularly, chocolates to express their love and commitment.
Similarly to Japan, on Valentine’s Day it is more common for women to shower their men with gifts as a sign of their love and affection. In return, women receive gifts on “White Day” from men which is on March 14th. The romantic traditions don’t stop there… one month later on April 14th, they have “Black Day”, when people who are single and didn’t receive any gifts on Valentines Day meet up at restaurants to eat “jajangyeon”. Jajangyeon is a dish made from white Korean noodles with a black bean sauce, referred to as black beans. Some say this tradition of eating black noodles with other single friends is a celebration of the single life, while others view it as being more of a consolation dinner or mourning of being single.
In Taiwan, the Japanese/South Korean tradition of Valentines Day and White Day is reversed, in the sense that men give women gifts. The women then return the favour by giving the men gifts on White Day.
Denmark & Norway;
Largely imported from the west “Valentinsdag”, as it is known or Valentines Day was not widely celebrated in the past but has been more celebrated in more recent years. However, they have managed to come up with their own quirky tradition that locals have embraced and made popular on this day. “Gaekkebrev” are funny poems or rhyming love notes that men send to women anonymously on Valentines Day, giving them clues who it is from which they then have to guess. If she guesses correctly then she receives an Easter egg on Easter Sunday or if she is wrong then she must give her “admirer” an Easter egg.
Welsh people celebrate “St Dwynwen’s Day” (the patron saint of love) on January 25th and is there equivalent of Valentine’s Day. On this day it is customary for men to gift their loved one with love-spoons, an age-old tradition that started when Welsh men (possibly originating among sailors), would carve intricately decorated spoons of wood and would then present them to a lady that they were interested in courting or marrying. The designs they carved on the spoon handles were symbolic too. For example, keys would signify a man’s heart, wheels his hard work, and beads his preferred number of offspring and so on. The love-spoon tradition is still in existence today.
In the 1700’s, on the eve of Valentines Day, single women would place/pin five bay leaves, one at each corner of their pillows and one in the centre, with the belief that it would bring them dreams of their future husbands. Another variation of this tradition was to sprinkle bay leaves with rosewater and leave them across their pillows saying “Good Valentine, be kind to m. In my dreams, let my kind love see”. This tradition is still thought to be used every once in a while.
In Norfolk (England), they have a “Santa Claus” of sorts know as “Jack Valentine” sometimes known-as “Old Father Valentine” or “Old Mother Valentine”. This lovable but mysterious character is said to knock at the door of little children on Valentine’s Eve and leaves them treats and little presents. Although it is not known how or when this tradition originated, it is still quite commonly practiced today.
Dubbed as one of the most romantic countries in the world, it comes as no surprise that France too carries on its own Valentines tradition. Their most popular tradition was called “une loterie d’amour” that translates into “drawing for love”. This practice involved single men and women of all ages entering houses that were located directly across from one another and calling each other out until everyone was paired with someone of the opposite sex. If the men didn’t like their match, they would simply leave the woman for another man to call. As part of the tradition, the women that didn’t get paired up got together for a ceremonial bonfire in which they tossed pictures & objects of the men who rejected them, whilst swearing and hurling curses at the opposite sex. This tradition truly exemplified the phrase “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned!”, so much so, that the French government officially banned the practice all together because of how rowdy and uncontrollable the event tended to get.