10 Unusual Valentine’s Traditions Around the World
The old tradition of “une loterie d’amour,” meaning “drawing for love” is now banned by the French government.
Unmarried people gathered in houses facing each other and called the name of their chosen partner through the windows. It all seemed very romantic, but the charm was spoilt when the man decided his choice didn’t come up to scratch and proceeded to desert his Valentine. Naturally, the women retaliated, and the custom developed of building a huge bonfire where they burnt the image of the now hated man while yelling abuse.
4. SOUTH AFRICA
Many South Africans celebrate Valentine’s Day with candlelit dinners, chocolates, flowers and romantic destinations.
For those though, who are not attached, you might find them wearing their hearts on their sleeves – Literally! Based on the ancient Roman festival of Lupercalia, women pin the name of their love interest on their sleeve for the day. In some cases, this is how South African men learn of their secret admirers.
Welsh men carved intricate wooden spoons as a token of affection for the women they loved. Patterns and symbols were carved into these love spoons, each signifying a different meaning. A few examples include horseshoes, which stand for good luck; wheels, which symbolize support; and keys, which symbolize the keys to a man’s heart.
Today, love spoons are also exchanged for celebrations such as weddings, anniversaries and births.
Though Ghanaians have adopted many of the same Valentine’s traditions as other parts of the world, since 2007, February 14 has also been known as “National Chocolate Day” in Ghana, one of the world’s largest cocoa exporters. The move, which aims to promote Ghana’s contribution to chocolate production through museum exhibits and special chocolate-themed restaurant menus, was pushed by the country’s tourism ministry as a means of attracting visitors to the West African nation.
If flowers are romantic, then Taiwan, which is world famous for its flowers, boasts the most romantic celebration in the world! And they celebrate it twice a year: February 14th and on July 7th.
Here the men are expected to give bouquets of flowers to their beloved one. According to Taiwanese tradition, the colour and number of flowers will represent an important message….
One day isn’t enough to celebrate Valentine’s in Argentina, land of the Tango. Argentinians take a week to celebrate the occasion. In addition to February 14th they set aside seven days in July for “Sweetness Week.” From the 13th to the 20th, lovers and friends will exchange kisses for sweet treats and candies. This week typically ends with “Friendship Day”.
In the 21st century, many Chinese now celebrate western Valentine’s Day complete with romantic gift exchanges and special dates. But the Chinese have celebrated their own “Day of Love” for centuries.
In China the equivalent of Valentine’s Day is the “Qixi Festival,” which means “The Night of Seven,” and is celebrated usually in early August, on the seventh day of the seventh lunar month.
While Valentine’s Day celebrations in the Philippines are similar to celebrations in Western countries, one tradition has swept the country and led to thousands of couples sharing a wedding day on February 14th. Mass wedding ceremonies have gained popularity in the Philippines in recent years, leading hundreds of couples to gather at malls or other public areas around the country to get married or renew their vows en masse.
In Japan the celebration of Saint Valentine’s is all about chocolate! Women give the traditional “Giri Choco”, (chocolates with no romantic association but obligatory to give on that day). They’re only given to their male friends, colleagues or even bosses. And the “Honmei Choco”, given to men whom the giver has romantic feelings for.
Males don’t get off the hook so easy! A month later on March 14th, men must return the gift with chocolates and more…this day is called “White Day”.
In addition to the usual exchanges of chocolates, flowers and cards, music festivals and performances are held throughout the country. Gift giving isn’t limited to couples, either. In Brazil, people celebrate this day of love by exchanging gifts and sharing dinner with friends and relatives, too.
The following day is Saint Anthony’s Day, which honors the patron saint of marriage. On this day, single women perform rituals called simpatias in hopes that St. Anthony will bring them a husband.