Language isn’t the only thing that separates different countries and cultures. Every country has its own unique traditions and quirks, particularly when it comes to expressions of amour. In honour of Valentine’s Day, we’ve taken a look at various traditions from around the world, some of which are quite far removed from the UK and USA’s obsession with flowers and chocolates!
Valentine’s Day cards and letters are popular in France, as they are in many English-speaking countries, so if you want to declare your love this Valentine’s Day then a letter translation service could be the answer. However, things haven’t always been so romantic in France…
The old tradition of the loterie d’amour saw men and women filing out of opposite houses and pairing up, with men who weren’t happy with their pairing leaving her for another choice. The rejected women would hold a bonfire to burn pictures of the men who had rejected them, hurling insults during the process. The tradition became so out of control that the government eventually stepped in and banned it.
In Argentina, lovers celebrate their passion for one another by exchanging kisses for sweets, with ‘Sweetness Week’ running for a full seven days in July. Apparently, a single day devoted to love is simply not enough! Originally created as a sweet company’s marketing campaign back in 1989, the concept took hold and today has become a chance for people to pay particular attention to being kind to one another.
In the Philippines, Valentine’s Day is all about mass weddings. Many young people marry on the same day as part of a government-sponsored event, designed to provide those who would otherwise not be able to afford a wedding with the chance to marry and commit the rest of their lives to each other.
Young South African women wear their hearts on their sleeves on Valentine’s Day: they pin the name of the person they love to their sleeve, with many taking the opportunity to reveal their secret crushes. In some parts of the country, young men have taken to doing the same.
In Japan, chocolate-giving is fully embraced as a Valentine’s Day concept. Women give giri choco (obligation chocolates) to those they work with and honmei choco (true feeling chocolates) to those they love. The latter are often homemade and better quality than the former. They can also treat themselves to jibun choco (self chocolates)! A month later, on White Day on 14 March, men who received the chocolates give return gifts of cookies, jewellery or white treats such as chocolate, marshmallows or lingerie.
South Koreans not only celebrate Valentine’s Day and White Day, but also Black Day, which is held on 14 April each year. The day sees single South Koreans celebrating their status by gather together and eating jajangmyeon (noodles in black sauce) and other black-coloured foods. Many also dress in black and use the day to get together with friends and lament their lack of gifts on the holidays of the previous two months.
In Wales, ancient tradition lives on, as men present those they love with intricately carved wooden spoons on St Dwynwen’s Day (St Dwynwen being the patron saint of love) on 25 January. The tradition comes from the gifts given to loved ones by 16th century sailors, who often whittled away the hours at sea by, well, whittling.
How do you choose to celebrate Valentine’s Day? Are you a stickler for tradition or will you be enjoying expressions of love translated from other countries this year? Leave a comment to share your thoughts.
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