Valentine’s Around the World

Owen Blunt, Staff Writer

Valentine’s is the oft forgotten holiday of love that so many people dread whether it’s because they don’t have a Valentine or because they do have someone to spend it with but they don’t remember the day and create a disaster of their own making. However, Valentine’s Day is my favorite holiday of all time and I love all of the dumb, corny traditions in America. Those nasty little messenger hearts are so much fun, the gross orange filled chocolates are worth more than gold. The cheesy notes and pickup lines are the oxygen I breathe. It’s all so dumb but it’s also a great holiday to embrace to pick yourself up from the gruelling month of January. In America, Valentine’s is pretty commercialized and so we have the Hallmark cards, the boxes of chocolates, roses, red velvet, restaurant deals, etc. So it seems interesting to take a look at what other cultures do to celebrate love across the world.

In America and most of the world, the men are often the one to give the gifts to the women and this custom isn’t only practiced on Valentine’s Day. Men are just traditionally the gift-giver. However, in Japan on Valentine’s Day Eve women give “obligation chocolates” to their friends, family and significant others. On the 14th or “White Day”  men then take the lead and are supposed to give elaborate and thoughtful gifts to the special woman in his life.

Korea has a fun tradition for single people. They basically have a sequel to Valentine’s called “Black Day” on April 14th where singles have to wear black. It’s also a tradition to eat black noodles if you’re uncoupled and along with the black noodles, called jajamyeon, you can eat your feelings without limit and no one can judge you because it’s Black Day.

In France there used to be a love lottery when men and women would shout to each other and then couple off to do their things. Men could just drop the woman they were with, though, and so understandably scorned women would gather together to burn pictures of their failed romances and vent to each other before starting a large bonfire to incinerate the photos. This tradition got so rowdy that eventually the French government had to ban le loterie d’amour.

In Verona, Italy, there is a four day festival celebrating the local origin story of Valentine, during Roman times the emperor banned marriage during wartime and in secret a man named Valentine married couples in secret anyway. So to celebrate today there’s the festival and a letter writing contest for Juliet and people release heart shaped lanterns into the night sky.

So after learning this all I have to think about is how boring American Valentine’s is, we could have a single day or a lottery of love but no, instead we have our little sweets and cards with overused sayings. However, even though it’s cheesy and commercial it’s still a great holiday to not only celebrate romantic love but also any other cherished connections.