by Cate Engles
Us Americans are so used to the routine buying of chocolate and red roses and the arrival of the new Fifty Shades of Grey movie that we forget that there are more ways to celebrate the significant others in our lives. All around the world, you will find romantic and fascinating traditions that will make you rethink giving your significant other heart shaped candies that don’t actually taste that good. Though not all of these traditions are celebrated on February 14th, they still revolve around the item everyone really wants: Love.
This tradition may come as a shock since it comes from the country which holds the city of love, or Paris, as its more commonly referenced as. In France, it was common for men and women to call each other’s names throughout the streets hoping to find themselves a partner. But, for the women who never received a call back, or in modern language, had been “ghosted”, bonfires were created to throw pictures and objects relating to their hopeful valentines. This practice is unfortunately banned today, and the day of “Le Saint-Valentin” is more traditionally celebrated.
In my opinion, South Korea is where I want to on Valentine’s Day. It is the tradition for the woman in a relationship to give the gifts. Then on the same day, a month later on “White Day”, the man gives the women a similar gift. Basically, the woman picks what she wants to receive, so her partner knows exactly what to get her. No need to fear if you are single in South Korea. There is a day dedicated to lonely hearts on April 14th, also known as “Black Day”. It is celebrated by eating bowls of black noodles called jajangmyeon.
Brazil is usually busy with the events of Carnival to celebrate Valentine’s Day on February 14th. Love and marriage is more commonly celebrated on Saint Anthony’s Day in June, him being the patron saint of marriage. Some single women pray that this saint will bring them a husband. Other women draw men’s names out of a hat to see who their future husband may be.
There is no hiding your crush on Valentine’s Day in South Africa. Tradition in this country is for women to pin the name on their sleeve of the person they have an interest in. They wear them during the Roman-inspired festival called the “Lupercalia” where men can seek out who their secret admirer is. I guess playing “hard-to-get” isn’t an option for South Africans.
Back on the European continent, Italy holds one of the most romantic celebrations. Right in the city where Romeo and Juliet is set in, Verona puts on a four-day festival in the Piazza dei Signori. Decorated with lights and red hearts, many couples go to enjoy a day of love-inspired activities. This includes a contest for the most beautiful letter written for Juliet. There is also a tradition for the single ladies of Italy as well. It is told that the first man they see on this special day is the man they will marry—or a man that looks like the one they’ll marry.
After having read about all of these traditions, I think it is safe to say that the U.S. needs to step up its V-Day game. It is obvious that Valentine’s Day does not have to be about a boyfriend or girlfriend, and in many countries, people celebrate their families and friends rather than a significant other. There is also the conclusion that not all of these traditions required couples to spend enormous amounts of money on each other. Perhaps we can learn from these countries that this day is less about the material aspect and more about spending time with the people that you love. And if you are single, well, these countries have your back.