From mass weddings and anonymous poems to friend celebrations and cutlery, these unusual Valentine gestures are as diverse as the countries they originate from — but all speak the same language of love...
South Korea celebrates love on the 14th of every month of the year, but February and March are the biggest and most expensive. Valentine’s Day sees women giving chocolate to men. And instead of returning the favour straight away, Korean men gift chocolate on White Day (14th March).
A month later is Black Day — a celebration for the singles. Those who didn’t receive treats in the previous months get together and eat Jjajyangmyeon (Black Noodles) with all their single friends.
In Norway, secret admirers send the objects of their desire funny little poems called gaekkebrev, the only clue to their identity being a dot representing each letter of his name. If the recipient guesses who the poem is from, they earn themselves an Easter egg on Easter. If she's stumped, she has to give the man an egg.
It's what every admirer dreads hearing, especially on Valentine's Day. Let's be friends. But in Estonia Valentine's Day is called Sōbrapäev, or ‘Friends Day.’ People exchange cards and gifts among friends with a cheery ‘Happy Friends Day.’ Just what you want to hear from someone you’ve had your eye on for years.
The Welsh do Valentine’s Day a bit earlier on January 25th. And they do it a bit differently – by gifting love-spoons. The spoons are an age-old tradition where Welsh men would carefully carve spoons and present them to the woman they were interested in. The designs they carved were symbolic and often had hidden clues. For example, the number of beads attached represented the number of children the man was expecting his beloved to produce.
Not so long ago, French single people celebrated Valentine’s Day by calling out to other single people living across the road until they were all paired off. If the men didn’t like their match they would simply leave the woman for another man to call. Called une loterie d’amour, the tradition often left women unmatched. However, according to the rules of tradition, they could get together, light a bonfire and toss pictures and belongings of the guys who rejected them. Sadly, the government banned it.
Slovenia’s Valentine’s Day coincides with the beginning of spring celebrations. On Gregorjevo, when the flowers are in bloom and the birds are singing, women are encouraged to go outside and look to the sky for answers. The first bird they see will supposedly tell them what their future husband will be like.
Iraqi Kurds celebrate Valentine’s Day with a ‘feast of love’, decorating red apples to represent the original love story: Adam and Eve. It diverges from the biblical tale in that an apple is believed to bring prosperity and love, not the end of earthly paradise.
In Germany, gingerbread isn't just for Christmas. Nothing says ‘Ich Lieber Dich’ better than a giant heart shaped ginger biscuit. The biscuits come with a ribbon attached so it can be draped around the shoulders of the lucky recipient.
Guatemalan’s take to the streets for El Dia del Carino (the Day of Affection), for the annual Old Love Parade. Senior citizens dress in feathers and masks for the celebration in Guatemala City.
In the Philippines, those who can’t afford their dream wedding jump at the chance to tie the knot on Valentine’s Day. Sponsored by the government, mass weddings takes place across the country, with everything being provided for them, even the rings.
Sign up today for free and be the first to get notified of new articles, new competitions, new events and more!