Whilst many of us love to celebrate Valentine’s Day with cards, flowers and heart-shaped chocolates, Valentine’s festivities around the world don’t always involve flying cupids. Here are six different ways to celebrate February the 14th this year.
BY THE ROAM TEAM 5 MIN READ
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Valentine's Day has a long and diverse history, and this is reflected in how it's celebrated around the world. If you’re thinking of switching it up this year, or want a bit of extra inspiration, there are plenty of interesting ways to swap out the ‘I love you’ greeting card for something more exciting.
Tu B’Av is often celebrated instead of Valentine’s Day in Israel, but this takes place in August. Tu B’Av traditionally celebrates the coming of the grape harvest, where unmarried girls wearing all white go out to dance in the vineyards. It's now the Jewish day of love, particularly amongst secular Jews who see it as the modern-day equivalent of Valentine’s. Popular for matchmaking, proposals and weddings, if there's a day to pray you find ‘the one’, it's this day.
In Japan, it’s popular for women to gift chocolate to the men in their lives, whether that be family, friends or co-workers. And that’s not a statement to be taken likely - men are expected to sit back and do very little on Valentine’s Day, and chocolate is the number one gift everywhere (so forget that fancy dinner you had planned!). It may have been a mistranslation by a chocolate manufacturer that led to this custom, but either way, if you’re a chocolate lover, Valentine’s Day in Japan is your dream!
But it’s not all doom and gloom for women on Valentine’s Day. There’s also a tradition that calls for the men to reply with gifts of their own a month later, on the so-called White Day on March the 14th. And the best part? Men have to give gifts two or three times the value of those they received the month before!
Valentine’s Day and White Day also take place in South Korea, but there’s another, slightly bleaker day too. Black Day is celebrated (or lamented) on April the 14th and is for those who didn’t receive anything on Valentine’s or White Day. Singletons go to a Chinese-Korean restaurant and cry over a bowl of black noodles. If you're in the mood to wallow this April, make sure to put this date in your diary.
Koreans also celebrate Pepero Day on November the 11th, when young couples give each other Pepero cookies, the date (11.11) intending to resemble the biscuits themselves. Inspiration for fans of biscuits everywhere.
The chocolate craze continues. Valentine’s Day in Ghana coincides with National Chocolate Day, instituted by their board of tourism in 2005. The initiative was meant to drive up sales on Ghanian chocolate, and to stop young people focussing on sex. Alternatively, you could take inspiration from Ghana and combine the two.
It’s all about friends in these two Nordic countries. February the 14th is a day for celebrating friendship, rather than significant others in Finland and Estonia. In Finland, it’s actually the second most popular day for card-giving. Take a leaf out of Finnish and Estonian books and let your friends know you love them this year!
Valentine’s Day is a big deal in the Philippines. It’s called Araw ng mga Puso and is marked by a sharp increase in how many people buy flowers, particularly red roses. It’s also the most popular day in the country for weddings, so if you’re thinking of whipping out a ring, do it on this day.
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