Valentine’s Day. You may love it, you may loathe it. Either way, you definitely can’t ignore it. Indeed, in many parts of the Western world, Valentine’s Day is second only to Christmas for consumer spending.
While flowers, chocolates and jewellery have become the norm in the UK (there are some great Valentine’s gifts at Littlewoods.com if you’re in need of other gift ideas), many countries still have their own unique way of celebrating.
On 14th February, Japanese women traditionally give the special men in their lives home-made chocolates. Honmei-choco (which roughly translates as ‘prospective winner chocolate’) is for boyfriends and husbands, while giri-choco (‘obligation chocolate’) is for friends and family. Not content with just the one day, however, 14th March is ‘White Day’, when men reciprocate these sentiments by giving women white chocolates, lingerie and jewellery.
Korea celebrates both these days too, but for those who are not in relationships, 14th April has been designated ‘Black Day’, when groups of friends who are not in relationships get together and eat jajang (‘black’) noodles.
Meanwhile, Taiwanese men traditionally give their partners flowers on Valentine’s Day. Here, size (of bouquet!) really is everything: one rose means ‘a love’, 11 ‘a favourite’, 99 ‘forever’ and 108 ‘Will you marry me?’.
Mexicans like to celebrate Día de San Valentín by giving colourful balloons with captions of love. Men also try to show their affection by turning up at their girlfriends’ homes with a mariachi band or trio of singers in tow.
Brazilians, meanwhile, celebrate Dia dos Namorados (‘Day of Lovers’) on 12th June. The night before, women write the names of those who have taken their fancy on pieces of paper. Tradition has it that the name they pick the following day will be the one they marry.
Finally, on Malaysia’s day of love, which falls on the seventh day of the seventh month of the lunar calendar, women write their phone numbers on oranges before throwing them into the river in the hope that the man of their dreams might pick one up. Let’s just hope the ink they use is indelible!
In our house, we choose to ignore it apart from to celebrate my mum’s wedding anniversary. However, I wouldn’t mind the occasional gift on any other day. A nice bunch of flowers randomly says so much more than one received on Valentine’s day.
This post was written in collaboration with Littlewoods