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How Valentine’s Day is celebrated around the world

Published on 14 February 2018|
2 min read

The language of love might be universal, but how it is celebrated is certainly different around the world!
by Stanley P, Carrybeans

Candlelit dinners, chocolates, red roses. These items are so synonymous with Valentine’s Day that you see them everywhere when February rolls around.

But do you know that the Danes give loved ones pressed snowdrops instead of red roses? Or that Brazilians celebrate their Valentine’s Day on 12th June? What we’re trying to say is that many parts of the world celebrate their day of love entirely differently!


1. Brazil’s Dia dos Namorados

Instead of celebrating Valentine’s Day on 14 February, Brazilians celebrate Dia dos Namorados (Lover’s Day) on 12 June each year. Brazilians don’t celebrate Valentine’s Day in February because of the Brazilian Carnival, which usually falls sometime then. So, they celebrate Dia dos Namorados on 12 June right before Saint Anthony’s Day on 13 June, a day to honour the patron saint of marriage.

The celebration of Dia dos Namorados is similar to the usual Valentine’s Day celebration in other parts of the world; people around the country exchange chocolates, cards and flowers. However, this isn’t limited only to couples as Brazilians celebrate this day with their family and friends too!


2. Japan’s giri-chocohonmei-choco and tomo-choco

Credit: Aaron Burden

In Japan, chocolates are usually only given by women to men on Valentine’s Day.

But here’s the catch; men can get one of two types of chocolates from a woman. Giri-choco, or obligation chocolate is given to male co-workers or other male acquaintances that you have no romantic feelings for. But honmei-choco, or true feeling chocolate, is given to someone they have romantic feeling for, including their boyfriends, husbands, and crushes.

However, don’t think that only men can get chocolates on Valentine’s. Girls can also give chocolates in the form of tomo-choco (which means friend chocolate) to their female friends.


3. Japan’s White Day

You may be thinking the guys get everything and give nothing in Japan, but not true!

Every March 14 is White Day when it is the guys turn to shower girls with gifts. If a guy received chocolates on Valentine’s, he is obligated to repay the girl with another gift. It can be marshmallows, white chocolates, cookies, jewelry or lingerie. Some men follow sanbai gaeshi (triple return value), where they choose to repay a girl’s gift with something worth three times the original gift value.

While this tradition comes from Japan, other countries like South Korea, Vietnam, China, and Taiwan also practice White Day.


4. Denmark’s gaekkebrev

Credit: Nillerdk

On Valentine’s Day, the Danes write joking/teasing letter to their loved ones in the form of gaekkebrev. The guys will write funny poems, romantic love notes, or rhymes anonymously on a piece of beautifully cut paper and it is the girls’ job to guess who the sender is. If she guesses correctly, she will receive an Easter egg later in the year.

Sometimes, people also include pressed snowdrop flowers in the letter, as these flowers trump red roses as a symbol of love in their culture.


5. China’s Qixi

Credit: Giang

Qixi festival or Qiqiao festival is the Chinese version of Valentine’s Day. Communities celebrate Qixi on the seventh day of the seventh month of the Chinese lunar calendar.

The festival celebrates a folk tale of true love between a weaver, Zhi Nu and a cowherd, Niu Lang who became separated by a river of stars. They are only able to see each other during the Qixi Festival, when a flock of magpies are believed to form a bridge for them to meet.

In modern times, girls offer carved melons and other kind of fruits to Zhi Nu and pray for good husbands.

Fun fact: Japan’s Tanabata festival and Korea’s Chilseok festival were inspired by the Qixi festival!


So how do you celebrate Valentine’s Day? Share with us in the comment section below.

Want to celebrate Valentine’s without spending too much? Here are affordable date ideas in KK.

Featured Image Credit: Fabrizio Verrecchia

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