By Lisa Knych
As we call know, Valentine’s Day is just around the corner. Sending greeting cards, flowers, chocolates, even jewelry are all part of the tradition here in the US but what do other countries do to celebrate this day of love? Let’s start with the most romantic country in the world: France.
In France, people historically took part in a custom known as “drawing for.” Unmarried people of all ages would go into houses that faced each other and call out across the windows and pair off with their chosen lover. Once the new couple met, if the man was not pleased with the woman, he could leave. The women who did not have success finding a lover would gather together around a bonfire and burn images of the ungrateful men. This custom has been abolished due to the violence it caused. Now, the custom is simply exchanging “cartes d’amities,” which are elegant cards with lovely messages.
In India, the celebration of Valentine’s Day is fairly new because a lot of people see it as an infiltration of Western culture but it is becoming more popular among Indian youth. As with US tradition, cards and gifts are exchanged between lovers, however, going to a club is the way most young lovers celebrate.
Valentine’s Day in Japan is celebrated in two parts. On February 14, women present men with gifts and exactly one month later, on White Day, the men give gifts back to the women. Chocolate is a popular gift in Japan on this occasion. Giri-choco is given to friends and colleagues because the word “giri” means obligation. Japanese women hand make honmei-choco and give it to their lovers and husbands because the word “honmei” means prospective winner.
White Day was started by a Japanese marshmallow company in the 1970s. On this day the chocolates men give back to the women are white. Other gifts like flowers and candies are also given.
Valentine’s Day celebrations in South Africa consist of week-long parties in clubs and hotels that are decorated with flowers, hearts and traditional African decorations. Young women also celebrate the festival of “Lupercalia,” where young girls pin the name of their love interest on their sleeve in hopes of them seeing it.
Brazil’s Dia dos Namorados, which translates to Lovers Day, is not celebrated on February 14 but rather on June 12. It is not celebrated on February 14 because this day falls too close to their national carnival celebration. Coincidentally, Dia dos Namorados is on Loving Day, which is the anniversary of the 1967 US Supreme Court decision Loving vs Virginia, which made interracial marriage legal throughout the United States.