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Celebrating Valentine’s Day around the Globe

By Rebekah Skeens
On February 15, 2018

Both Western and Eastern cultures have unique ways of celebrating Valentine's Day.
Photo Courtesy of Think Smarter World


In a typical American store around Valentine’s Day, it is not uncommon to see shelves lined with oversized teddy bears, heart shaped boxes of chocolates, and hundreds of cards. In other countries, many celebrate in similar ways, while others have a different outlook. Western culture has ceremonies based solely on love, but across the globe, this holiday is commemorated with other unique customs and traditions. 
The Valentine’s Day legend is believed to be an origin of a Roman priest, Saint Valentine, who performed marriages after being outlawed. The History Channel states that many celebrations of the day began around the early 1700s and have changed to become the day of love which many observe. Some areas observe the holiday on a day other than Feb. 14, or even have renamed the day for originality. 
In Brazil, the country celebrates, Dia dos Namorados, meaning Lover’s Day or Boyfriend and Girlfriend’s Day, on June 12. According to Chesney Hearst, Senior Reporter of The Rio Times, the holiday is later due to the Carnivals early each year. The Maze Rio, a special feast, features homemade Indian Curry, breads, and live jazz music. Throughout the day, the tradition is like those in America with parties, gifts, and heart shaped decorations.
When it comes to romance, France is known for being one of the most romantic destinations in the world. According to the Huffington Post, in 1415 when Charles, Duke of Orleans, sent love letters to his wife, this began the Valentine’s Day card tradition in France. Today, the sending of cards is still a huge tradition, especially in Paris, which is known as the city of love. 
Farther west, in Denmark, tradition states that Danish men will send cards with a secret, yet funny note, which is signed in dots. The dots represent each letter of the person’s name. When the cards are sent out, they are intended to be anonymous and a humorous gesture for their special valentine. If the woman can guess who sent her the card, she will receive an Easter egg. Many simply love the day, because they get to show their love and get plenty of treats as well.
Fellow student, Jafar Musa from Nigeria shares that their Valentine’s Day tradition is much like America’s. There, entire streets, restaurants, and stores are covered in red, pink, and white to truly commemorate the day. Musa states, “People in love with each other, treat each other with flowers, chocolate, maybe a vacation and go on dates. It’s basically an individual thing. However, they want to be creative.” 
Like northern Africa and other parts of the world, South Africa has festivals, flowers, and a numerous number of cards. Marissa Willman of Viator states, in this area of the continent, it’s traditional for women to share the name of their loved one. They pin the name of their interest on their shirt sleeve. “In some cases, this is how South African men learn of their secret admirers.”
Continuing into Western culture, Japan has observed the holiday since the 1970s, with the women giving chocolates to the men. Kirk Spitzer of USA Today writes how much thought goes into which type of candy the man will receive. In some cases, it should be cheap giri choko, known as obligation chocolate, or sometimes for someone special, they might receive honmei choko, the true feeling chocolate. Japanese women do get reciprocation on “White Day,” March 14, which is exactly one month after Valentine’s Day is celebrated. They receive white chocolates and other small gifts of kindness and love. 
Across the world, Valentine’s Day is a well- known holiday. Many traditions have stemmed from American culture, but not always. Every country has its own rituals, traditions, and festivals, by which it celebrates Feb. 14 or another day in honor of love. 




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