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What Makes the World Go Round?
Valentine’s Day Celebrations From Across the Globe
Japan In Japan, women take responsibility for gift-giving on Valentine’s Day, and chocolates say more than words. On Feb. 14, women in Japan give the men in their lives gifts of “giri choco” or “honmei choco.” Giri choco translates to “obligation chocolate,” and, as the name would suggest, tends to be cheaper and store-bought. Usually given to friends, colleagues, or bosses, this chocolate comes with no romantic notions attached. Honmei choco is “true-feeling chocolate.” Often homemade, honmei choco is given to romantic partners, including husbands and boyfriends. The ladies of Japan may do all the work on Valentine’s Day, but one month later, on March 14, the country celebrates White Day. This holiday gives men the chance to reciprocate by giving presents to the women in their lives. Typical White Day gifts include cookies, jewelry, white chocolate, white lingerie, and marshmallows. South Korea Japan’s Valentine’s Day and White Day traditions have spread to other countries in Asia, and South Korea has taken it a few steps further. In South Korea, the 14th day of every month is a special day for love and romance. In addition to Valentine’s Day in February and White Day in March, South Koreans celebrate Diary Day on Jan. 14, Black Day in April, Yellow Day in May, Kiss Day in June, Silver Day in July, Green Day in August, Photo Day in September, Wine Day in October, Movie Day in November, and Hug Day in December. Each holiday signifies a special way to celebrate love. Don’t worry; single folks aren’t left out of the festivities. Black Day on April 14 is a holiday for single people to wear black and eat “jajangmyeon,” a Korean black bean noodle dish. Depending on how you look at it, this holiday is either for people to mourn being alone or to celebrate their independence.
In the United States, Valentine’s Day, the most romantic of holidays, is often referred to by cynical souls as a “Hallmark holiday.” It’s hard to argue with that dismissal when the same pink and red greeting cards line the shelves of every department store. If you’re tired of the same old heart-shaped candies and restaurant reservations, it’s time to bring the romantic spark back to Valentine’s Day. Take a trip around the world and see how other countries celebrate the day of love. Denmark In the U.S., red roses are the go-to Valentine’s Day flower thanks to their connection to Aphrodite, the ancient Greek goddess of love. However, in Denmark, couples are more likely to exchange snowdrops. These lovely white flowers rarely wait for the warmth of spring to bloom, instead pushing right through the snow, which makes them a wonderful symbol of love that triumphs in harsh conditions. Poems are also popular among Danish couples on Valentine’s Day. Called “gækkebrev,” these anonymous poems are romantic or humorous in nature. If the person who received the poem is able to correctly guess the sender, they are rewarded with an Easter egg later that year on Easter Sunday. South Africa Some people tend to wear their hearts on their sleeves, and on Feb. 14 in South Africa, they do so literally. Women, and sometimes men, will write the name of their sweetheart on a piece of paper and pin it to their sleeve. This is inspired by the ancient Roman festival of Lupercalia, which was held on Feb. 15. In South Africa, it’s not uncommon to discover you have a secret admirer by seeing your name written on their sleeve.
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