Valentine’s Day Traditions

Japan: In this part of the World, it’s all about spoiling your man on Valentine’s day and not the other way around like in most Western cultures. The women are in the forefront presenting the men in their lives gifts (mostly chocolates), to express either their love, courtesy or social obligation.

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Chocolate is a popular Valentine’s Day gift

The different types of chocolates signified different relationships: a woman may gift giri-choko that literally translates to ‘obligation chocolate’, to men without any romantic interest (like bosses, colleagues, class-mates, brothers, fathers and close male friends). Chō-giri choko is a step down from that and is referred to as ‘ultra-obligatory’ chocolate. It is a cheaper chocolate reserved for people the woman isn’t even particularly fond of, but feels obligated to gift something to so they don’t feel left out, say an unpopular co-worker, for example. On the other end of the spectrum, there’s honmei-choko meaning ‘favourite or true feeling chocolate’, that is specially gifted to boyfriends, lovers or husbands.

South Korea: Women in South Korea spoil their men with chocolates on this day. That said, South Koreans are a romantic bunch and have practically marked the 14th of every month to signify some sort of ‘Love’ related day: January 14 is Candle Day; February 14 is Valentine’s Day; March 14 is White Day; April 14 is Black Day; May 14 is Rose Day; June 14 is Kiss Day; July 14 is Silver Day; August 14 is Green Day; September 14 is Music Day; October 14 is Wine Day; November 14 is Movie Day; December 14 is Hug Day.

Denmark and Norway: Gaekkebrev are funny little poems or rhyming love notes that men send to women anonymously on Valentine’s Day, giving them only a clue as to the number of letters in the senders name, represented by a dot for each letter. The recipient must then guess who sent her the card. If she guesses correctly she wins an Easter Egg on Easter later that year and if she’s stumped as to who her secret admirer was, she owes him an egg instead which is collected on Easter.

Slovenia: The people of Slovenia have a belief that the birds of the fields propose to their loved ones and get married on this day, and to witness this one must walk barefoot through the field on sometimes still frozen ground.

France: Their most popular tradition was called une loterie d’amour that translates to “drawing for love”. This practice involved single men and women of all ages to enter houses that faced opposite each other and take turns calling out to one another until they were paired off. If the men didn’t like their match, they would simply leave the woman for another man to call. As part of the tradition, the women that didn’t get matched up, got together for a big ceremonial bonfire in which they tossed pictures and objects of the men who rejected them, whilst swearing and hurling curses at the opposite sex. The French government officially banned the practice because of how rowdy and uncontrollable the whole event usually got.