Valentine’s Day Customs Around the World
by Hazel Lorraine
published February 03, 2012
rating: (18 Ratings)
8 lovely global traditions
They say that love is a universal language; have you ever wondered what other countries do to celebrate Valentine's Day? In North America, V-Day is often celebrated by giving roses and chocolate, and enjoying a romantic dinner. But if you’re thinking of doing something a bit more creative and special for your beau this year, check out these international Valentine’s Day customs that are sure to surprise and delight.
Chileans love to celebrate Valentine’s Day by preparing delicious dishes like pastel de choclo (ground beef casserole), cazuela (a stew-like dish containing meats and veggies), and a very popular drink called mote con huesillo. It sounds like they believe that the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach!
The Danish have added a special spin to writing love poems in a tradition called Gaekkebrev. On Valentine’s Day, young couples write romantic love poems but the sender remains anonymous. Instead, he signs his name only in dots. Then the receiver of the card is supposed to guess the name of her secret admirer. If the receiver guesses the correct name, she will receive an Easter egg later on in the spring. Along with the Gaekkebrev, it is traditional to give loved ones white flowers known as Snowdrops.
For the love of art, couples in France face each other and draw portraits of their loved ones. There is a popular custom in Paris where couples lock a padlock on the Pont des Arts behind the Notre Dame Cathedral. The padlocks are left on the bridge and couples throw away the key into the Seine River as a symbol of their eternal love.
Women give their boyfriends and husbands homemade chocolates called hon-mei. One month later, on March 14 (known as “White Day”), men reciprocate by giving white chocolates to their significant others, along with flowers and gifts.
Traditional Valentine’s Day gifts come in a gift basket. There are different types of gift baskets for women containing chocolates, wine and cheese, gourmet foods, spa certificates, and cookies. For the guys, a gift basket filled with aged liquors and wine is the best bet.
On February 15, single women write down their phone numbers on mandarin oranges, then throw them into the Singapore River, hoping it will bring them luck in meeting their soul mates.
On both Valentine’s Day and the holiday in the lunar calendar (July 7), roses are given to women by the men. The quantity of the flowers has great significance: one rose means “one and only love”,11 roses means “favourite,” 99 imply “forever”, and 108 roses signal a marriage proposal.
Children sing special songs in exchange for candy and money. It’s also a time for baking hot cross buns containing raisins, plums or caraway seeds.
Hazel Lorraine is a Canadian writer and model from Toronto. She has a B.A. in Psychology and Communications from York University and was a contestant in the 2003 Miss Universe Canada pageant. As a writer, she has written the novel Diary of an (Un)Glamourous Model (available at amazon.ca and Indigo Chapters). She is also a contributor for Yahoo! News.
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