Whether you’re a Valentine’s Day aficionado or you’re completely opposed to its festivities, there’s no love lost in seeing how the rest of the world celebrates (or doesn’t celebrate) the big day. Have a read of seven of the ways Valentine’s Day has evolved into an important day of tradition across the globe.
...And to be specific, Glasgow. It’s no wonder Scots regard Glasgow as the “city of love”, as it’s one of the ten places in the world that claim to house the actual remains of St. Valentine – its relic, decorated yearly with flowers. And the celebrations don’t stop there: Scots exchange small tokens of affection with their loved ones on Valentine’s, and most people choose to go to a castle for the weekend to make the day even more special..
Valentine’s Day and its associated romance is often considered to be one for the ladies. In Japan, however, it’s custom for women to give men the treats to adequately demonstrate their affection. And the go-to treat of choice? Chocolate – where your level of affection for your partner depends, of course, on the particular type of chocolate you choose.
Valentine’s Day – or Dia de los Enamorados – for the Cubans has become a euphoric day of expressing love for friends and your significant other. Cubans hit the street, ready to celebrate with music and dancing, and 14 February is often coupled with engagement rings. It’s no wonder Havana has made it sixth on the top international destinations for Valentine’s Day.
Despite Valentine’s Day being less commonly celebrated than other parts of the world, it is traditional in Germany to present two types of food-based gifts: chocolate or marzipan pigs or big gingerbread hearts with the words “ich liebe dich”, meaning “I love you”. Food really is the way to one’s heart.
In Italy, the phrase “love at first sight” rings true on Valentine’s Day. Italians would believe that the first man a woman laid eyes upon on 14 February would either resemble or be her future husband-to-be within a year. Waking up early and hitting the streets early on Valentine’s Day has since become the Italian way to celebrate their day of love.
For the Danes, Valentine’s Day has a comedic twist: gaekkebrev – letters with jokes – are common tokens of affection to bid your loved one. The challenge is to craft an eloquent letter, peppered with rhymes and wit, and to decorate it with cut-out paper patterns. When you’ve finished, it’s custom to sign your signature with a series of secretive dots – one dot for every letter of your name.
What’s love got to do with it? For the Finnish, Valentine’s Day is celebrated in a less amorous way, choosing to honour platonic instead of romantic love. Named Ystävän Päivä, Valentine’s Day becomes Friendship day – a time to show your friends your appreciation, often in the form of a card or chocolate and well-wishing. Happy friendship day!