Once again it is that time of year when hearts, flowers, poetry, red, and cozy romantic atmospheres are sought by individuals and couples alike in an effort to express and impress. Have you ever wondered if there was a better–or at least different–way to go about this whole celebration of love idea? I have to admit that I had that thought cross my mind a time or five, so in order to put my curiosity to rest and, hopefully, give you a few new ideas on how to celebrate, here are five ways from across the globe to partake in the holiday known as St. Valentine’s Day…
In Australia, instead of giving chocolate, a card, or even a gold necklace to your sweetheart on February 14, satin cushions, sometimes embellished with flowers, colored shells, a stuffed hummingbird or bird of paradise, are given. This tradition of elaborate gift-giving began during the gold rush period in Australia, the profits of which allowed people to buy their loved ones more extravagant gifts on Valentine’s Day. I would not go so far as to say that this practice is common today, but if you are looking for a fashionable and somewhat expensive way to show how you feel, by all means look for a satin cushion!
St. Valentine’s Day is celebrated much the same in Scotland as it is in
many other countries around the world: with hearts, candy, the color
red, and cards containing romantic messages. One joyously and
enthusiastically followed tradition involves finding a Valentine date.
In accordance with Scottish custom, the first young man or woman
encountered on Valentine’s Day becomes your Valentine. It seems like
chance should dictate who you end up with, but I would not be shocked to
see fellows making well-laid plans to intersect bonnie lasses on the
morning of Valentine’s Day.
Well, gentlemen, February 14 in Japan is your lucky day! This is the day
that Japanese women give gifts, typically chocolates, to men.
Chocolate companies have ramped up advertising for this holiday as a way
to encourage shy Japanese women to express their love or gratitude to
the people around them. Interestingly enough, the chocolate companies
have been very successful; today more than half of their annual sales
come the week before Valentine’s Day. In case you were wondering, the
men give the women gifts one month later on “White Day”, or March 14,
French people celebrate Valentine’s Day by exchanging elegant cards
called ‘cartes d’amities’ as well as the classic flower bouquets and
gift baskets. As in the United States, the holiday is heavily
commercialized. Restaurants are decorated and re-designed to create
private spaces for lovers to enjoy good music and delicious food. Some
people even go so far as to make photo collages, love maps, and homemade
goodies to celebrate and commemorate the occasion.
One of the most extreme Valentine’s Day traditions also comes from this
love-infused country. The story goes that single people of all ages
used to enter the houses opposite them and begin calling out to each
other until they were all paired off with one another. However, if a
male was not particularly thrilled with his female partner, he would
leave her. The women that were deserted by their respective “partners”
would build large bonfires and burn pictures of their deserters, all the
while hurling insults and curses at them. Needless to say, this
tradition has long since been banned by the French government.
Brazilians do not celebrate Valentine’s Day, at least not on February
14. Instead they celebrate Dia dos Namorados, or Day of the Enamored,
on June 12 each year. Large parties, dancing, sporting competitions,
and concerts are just a few of the ways that locals (and tourists)
celebrate Dia dos Namorados. It is not unusual for couples in Brazil to
look for new and unique ways to make a “grand gesture” or surprise
their partner to celebrate this holiday. For example, some lovers send
each other messages for the entire day.