In a January blog we looked at how people around the world celebrate a new year. Surprisingly, it’s not always January 1st. Now what about the love and romance holiday we just enjoyed – Valentines Day – are there celebrations of this day around the world? It turns out that there are quite a few celebrations, but not always on February 14th as in the US.
The origin of Valentine’s Day is not clear. Most attribute it to the sacrifice of St. Valentine during the third century. The story says that the Emperor Claudius II decided that unmarried men without wives and families made better soldiers, so he outlawed marriage. A Priest named Valentine knew this decree was unjust and he continued to perform marriages in secret. He was put to death for it! There are other stories about the origin of the celebration as well, but this one is mentioned most often.
Where does the child with the arrows – Cupid – come from? That image is from Greek mythology, and he represents Eros, the God of love. According to that story, Eros was an immortal who played with the emotions of Gods and men. He would use golden arrows to incite passion and arrows made of lead for the opposite emotion.
There are quite a few celebrations of romantic love around the world, and we’ll focus on five of the ones we find most interesting.
Would you like to receive a handcrafted wooden spoon from your love? That’s how the celebration takes place in Wales. Their Valentines Day is on January 25th, and it’s called the “day of San Dwynwen.” The wooden spoon gifts have been given since the 16th century, so it’s well established for them, unique for us.
Paris is certainly associated with romance, so it’s no surprise that France stands out when it comes to Valentines Day. There’s a story that the first-ever Valentine’s Day card was originated in France, when Charles, the Duke of Orleans, sent love letters to his wife from the prison in 1415. Also, there is a village in France named “Valentine” (Saint-Valentin) where romance is super celebrated between 12th and 14th of February. In this village the yards, trees, and homes are decorated with love cards and roses.
How do the Chinese people celebrate love and marriage? In one area of southwest China there is a celebration called the “Sisters’ Meal,” which takes place on the 15th of March. During this festival women wear silver accessories and beautiful dresses. (See the image above.) These are considered by some to be the most gorgeous Valentine’s Day costumes among the world celebrations. Various dishes are cooked using colored rice that’s offered on silk fabric. Inside the rice dish will be an object – two chopsticks mean love and a clove of garlic means the love is over before it has begun. Kind of like Cupid’s golden or lead arrows!
In South Korea, there is a celebration of love on the 14th of every month. The “day of roses” is celebrated in May, the “day of kisses” is celebrated in June, the “day of hugs is in December” and single people celebrate the “black day” in April by eating black noodles. Not a bad idea to celebrate love every month instead of once a year!!
What about chocolate? Where can we find a celebration of that? In Ghana, Feb 14 is celebrated as the “National Chocolate Day.” The Ghana government decided to make it a holiday in 2007 in order to increase tourism in the country. Ghana is among the largest cocoa-producing countries in the world. On Feb 14, romance-minded couples can attend performances, music events, and enjoy special menus in the restaurants.
We hope you’ve enjoyed this glimpse of how our diverse world celebrates romance.