Love Across the World

Love fills the air all over the world on Valentine’s day as couples and friends come together to show each other love and appreciation across countless cultures. From dining at a romantic setting or giving a box of chocolates to a crush, the day of love is celebrated in a myriad of ways throughout the world, no shortage of creativity in sight.

Denmark

Many Valentine’s Day traditions involve a distribution or exchange of edibles are nick-nacks, whether they be homemade with love or affectionately purchased. In Denmark, though, the common tradition is a bit different.

The country has only celebrated the day on a large scale since the 1990s, and has  taken on its own unique tradition. Love cards may be common at Valentine’s Day, but for the Danish, it’s at the heart of it. Most popular among the many note-related traditions on this day of love is the Lover’s Card. Originally, these cards would be transparent, hiding an image revealing a gift for the recipient, which could only be seen when exposed to enough light. The cards have since evolved for multiple audiences, taking on colorful designs or reflecting the passions of a music lover.

South Africa

No pun intended, Valentine’s Day is a holiday South Africans take to heart. Given the country’s geographical location and beauty, the country has many locations for locals and tourists alike to visit this day of love.  Excursions to romantic sites is itself one of the most common Valentine’s traditions in the country.

To celebrate this day, shops and streets are lined with flowers, hearts, and myriad of other symbols of love, in addition to traditional African decorations. Celebrations are held, sometimes lasting for a week, in honor of age old South African culture. The streets are filled with people, hotels and resorts booked, and wildlife parks flourish with life not-so-wild. Numerous outdoor activities are also popular, such as mountaineering and river rafting.

Whatever the celebration, South Africans are sure to show their love of Valentine’s Day.

China

Instead of celebrating on February 14th, China’s day of love is celebrated on the seventh day of the Chinese calendar’s seventh month, earning this celebration the name “Festival of the Double Sevens”. This tradition, over two millennia old, comes from the tale of an ox-herd Niu Lang, and his fairy wife, Zhi Nu, who were separated by Nu’s parents. Distraught, the two lovers cried a river, moving the girl’s mother enough to allow the two to see each other,  but only on the seventh day of the seventh month.

Young girls often pray to Nu for blessings of skillful sewing. In rural areas of China, the meeting of Niu Lang and Zhi Nu is often depicted as two stars, elders passing the tale down to younger generations. Within the larger cities, however, the tradition has become less popular, where celebration of western Valentine’s day is favored, exchanging of flowers and chocolates being commonplace.

Germany

For a day centered around love and beauty, it may seem peculiar to involve, say, a swine,  typically see as a dirty animal – but in Germany, pigs are actually quite a symbolic gift to give a Valentine. The celebration is rather new for Germany compared to other nations, and is seen as a primarily adult holiday. There is the standard exchange of hearts and chocolates, but the Germans have a special addition of their own, that addition being the aforementioned swine.

Pigs are given as gifts, representing two qualities one may consider synonymous with love – luck and lust. Lovers and admirers exchange these as symbols of love and the accompanying traits associated with the pig in a variety of fashions, be it a picture, a miniature, or whatever contents the giver’s heart. Inscribed somewhere on the pig are often romantic quotes, perhaps most common among these being “Ich liebe dich”, which translates to “I love you”.

Taiwan

For a day set around romance, the Taiwanese have a tradition which amplifies that to a “T”. Flowers are a common for Valentine’s Day, and may be as synonymous with the day as flowers, but in Taiwan, their meaning is far more significant. According to the tradition in the island nation, the colors and number of flowers mean everything. Given as a gift, red roses symbolizes the receiver is the giver’s one true love, and 99 of these roses represents a love which will surpass even time itself. When one gives a gift of 108 roses, they are performing one of the most romantic acts one can perform – they are proposing marriage. Confessing love through words is a brazen act on its own, but taking the dedication a step further and showing one’s inner feelings through symbolic means may be even more romantic.