Valentine’s Day. Single people dread it. People take to dating sites to find someone to share it with. But, above all it’s a day to show your bae that they’re before anyone else with chocolate, candy, stuffed animals, jewelry, dinner dates, and cute cards galore. While it’s easy for many to forget that grand gestures of love and romance don’t only have to fall on one day, there is a history to Valentine’s Day traditions.
We celebrate Valentine’s Day around the world thanks to St. Valentine, a martyred saint whose story and Valentine’s Day history is wondered about but not truly known. One legend has is that, when Roman Emperor Claudius II banned marriages for young men to make them into soldiers, St. Valentine was abhorred by the notion and conducted private marriages to the young and in love. Another legend offers that an imprisoned St. Valentine sent a letter to his loved one signed “From your Valentine,” which is where the popular February 14 signature originated. No matter how the story came about, the purpose is to celebrate love around the world.
If you’ve read all about the unromantic options the world has to offer, get ready to switch gears and take a look at the more sentimental ways that people celebrate traditions of love around globe. Believe it or not, Valentine’s Day traditions were not created by greeting card and chocolate companies! Many of the traditions around the holiday actually have deep, historical roots and are celebrated with some interesting twists from culture to culture. Get out of that “Singles Awareness Day” mentality, grab your chocolate, and dive into these six unique international celebrations of love with us:
Valentine’s day is strictly a mature holiday here, meaning no cards or candy between elementary students or cupid shooting arrows! However, there is the presence of cute lil’ piggies! These little critters, a sign of luck and lust, adorn Valentine’s Day paraphernalia. Another popular treat are the giant (and we mean GIANT) ginger cookies! Often decorated with more provocative messages than just “Be Mine,” the sweets usually come with ribbons so they can be hung around the necks of your sweetheart.
The Qixi Festival, which is often referred to as Chinese Valentine’s Day, is focused on allowing girls to demonstrate their domestic talents — particularly melon carving. Born from a myth of a goddess and a mortal man who fell deeply in love but were not allowed to live their life together, it has inspired many similar celebrations in other Asian countries. For their Valentine’s Day traditions, young, single women and new brides traditionally make offerings to the goddess on the 7th day of the 7th lunar month, which is the one day a year the star-crossed lovers are said to be allowed to be together.
In this country, the day has a more platonic vibe. It is actually called the Day of Love and Friendship. A very popular tradition involves anonymous gift-giving from one friend to another. Similarly, in Guatemala City, people partake in Old Love, a parade for senior citizens where people wear bright colors or traditional Mayan attire. Traditions of love don’t have to be over the top: The day is much more about friends and family than romance throughout South America.
Who says you always need Valentine’s Day history to celebrate your love? Adventure and love have become synonymous in Thailand. Sky diving and underwater weddings are incredibly popular. In a slightly more traditional fashion, single women lay red roses at the feet of the Trimurti shrine to pray for a good hubby.
On the flip side, the equivalent of Valentine’s Day traditions in India are a bit controversial and tricky, as some Hindus see the day as a sign of the invasion of Western culture. Protests are not uncommon and often include the burning of romantic greeting cards. Talk about burning love!
Whether you’re trying to be part of the world record-breaking kiss, giving anonymous gifts to friends and family, or simply signing a Valentine’s card to give to your Valentine, these Valentine’s Day traditions are united on one front. It’s all about love, people. Traditions may vary, but the feeling they’re inspired by is universal. So for this Valentine’s Day around the world, share some chocolate, send a card, or just love the people around you — Happy Valentine’s Day!