February 14 might be the common day of celebration for Valentine’s Day but the usual flowers, chocolates, and dating tradition might not be the same all over the world.
There is this popular tradition in France called “une loterie d’amour” which means “drawing for love”. Single men and women of all ages are required to enter houses facing opposite each other and start calling through the windows until they are paired off. If a man is not particularly interested with his partner, he simply leaves her for another man to call. At the end of the event, all the women who were not paired off get together for a bonfire ceremony where they burn photos or tokens of the men who rejected them while cursing and swearing at them. This tradition was a great way for women to pour out their heartaches which inevitably resulted in chaos. Eventually, French officials banned the tradition altogether.
No one can deny that France is one of the most romantic place in the world. In addition to its many Valentine’s day traditions, religious pilgrims and romantic couples travel to a village in Indre named after St. Valentin. On February 14 each year, the whole village of St. Valentin becomes a huge garden of flowers where you can plan a romantic getaway or even renew your marriage vows. So much so, it has declared itself a “Village of Love”.
While most countries spoil their women during Valentine’s Day, in Japan, it is the men who are showered with presents. Women in Japan are conventionally shy and reserved, which, only on February 14 can they display their love to the opposite sex by giving them chocolates or gifts. But it is also common for the women to give men, other than their romantic partners, such as their friends or colleagues, presents during Valentine’s day to express courtesy or obligations. Also, it is becoming popular for young women to give chocolates or sweets to their fellow girl-friends in school during Valentine’s Day.
On the other hand, come March 14, men reciprocate the act by giving more elaborate gifts like candies, cookies, even jewelries to the women, gifts that are more expensive than what they have received on Valentine’s day. This is called “White Day” signifying purity which makes it a popular color for chocolate boxes or gift boxes for that day.
Although Valentine’s Day was recently introduced in their region, a tradition called “Gaekkebrev” are being practised where young men and women compose funny love poems and send it anonymously to their crushes. The sender gives clues by writing dots instead of his or her name. The number of dots represent the number of letters of the sender’s name. If the recipient guesses correctly, she receives an egg on Easter Day. If not, she must give an egg to him on Easter.
Just like in Japan, men and women in South Korea celebrate Valentine’s Day on February 14 and White Day on March 14. But instead of stopping at that, they have an additional tradition called “Black Day” celebrated on April 14. On this day, men and women who have not received any presents on February 14 and March 14, gather together at restaurants to eat “jjajyangmyeon” or black noodles. They say this is a celebration or mourning of the single life.
In this place, Valentine’s Day is more of a celebration of friendship rather than romantic love. Popularly known as “Ystavanpaiva” which translates to Friend’s Day, men and women send cards and gifts to friends with the greeting of “Happy Friend’s Day”. But one thing’s for sure, it is a day for great parties where men and women can party to the fullest.
In the region of Norfolk, a popular character called ‘Jack Valentine’ is believed to knock on doors and leave sweets and gifts for children on Valentine’s eve, just like Santa Claus. For the more mature men and women, they leave a parcel at their lover’s door, knock and make a run for it hoping their partner will not see them – only the parcel.