Valentine’s Day Around the World

All over the world, people celebrate Valentine’s Day by taking the opportunity to reaffirm their love to spouses, sweethearts and special ones.  While customs and traditions of celebrating vary from country to country due to social and cultural differences, the most popular Valentine’s Day gifts exchanged between loved ones are cards, fresh flowers and chocolates. Here’s a look at five different countries and how they celebrate Valentine’s Day.

The Danish Valentine card is known as the “lover’s card”. Older versions of this greeting were transparent and, when held up to the light, depicted the image of a lover handing his beloved a gift. One custom in Denmark is for people to send pressed white flowers called Snowdrops to their friends. Danish men may also send a form of Valentine known as a “gaekkebrev” (or “joking letter”). The sender of this “gaekkebrev” pens a rhyme but does not sign his name. Instead, he signs the message with dots; one dot for each letter in his name. If the lady who receives the card guesses the name of the sender, then she is rewarded with an Easter Egg later in the year.

In Japan , Valentine’s Day is celebrated on two different dates. On February 14, females present gifts to their boyfriends or any males close to them.  The favor is then returned on the White Day celebrated on March 14 when men pamper the women who gave them gifts a month before on Valentine’s Day.

Based on an ancient Chinese folktale, Valentine’s Day in Taiwan is celebrated on February 14 as well as July 7 of the lunar calendar. Both dates are equally as important and many men purchase expensive bouquets of roses and other flowers for their sweethearts. According to tradition, the color and number of the roses is very significant. A single red rose means “an only love”, 11 roses means “a favorite”, 99 roses means “forever”, and 108 roses means “marry me”.

In India, Valentine’s Day celebrations are a recent phenomenon and have sparked great debate. Seen by some as a Western import, many are hesitant to celebrate. A large and growing number of those who love the feeling behind the beautiful and romantic festival, especially Indian youth, express their affection for others. Various groups in India have objected to the growing popularity of Valentine’s Day, burning Valentine’s Day cards and posters to protest what they called the imposition of Western values on the youth.

Valentine’s Day in South Africa is celebrated with keen interest and enthusiasm. The geographical location of the country has made it one of the most romantic destinations. Thousands of tourists are attracted to the natural beauty of the surroundings and a large number of sweethearts line the beaches and other romantic places throughout South Africa to celebrate Valentine’s Day.

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