If you’re in the United States, you’re probably readying your red roses and heart-shaped box of chocolates for your sweetheart – or hopefully soon-to-be-sweetheart in anticipation of Valentine’s Day. But across the world, people in different countries are preparing in entirely different ways.
The Japanese love Valentine’s chocolate just as much as Americans, but they actually divide the day in two: on February 14th, women give their boyfriends chocolate – often homemade. One month later, on March 14th, the men return the favor by giving them white chocolate, which is why the day is commonly called White Day.
In Taiwan, men put a lot of thought into the number of red roses they give to their ladies: one red rose symbolizes being their only love, ninety-nine red roses symbolizes forever, and if they are proposing, they offer a whopping one hundred and eight roses!
South Africans are very forthright on Valentine’s Day: many people pin the name of their beloved on their sleeve, a nod to the Ancient Roman fertility festival of Lupercania.
Estonia is very inclusive in their Valentine’s Day celebrations, emphasizing the platonic love between friends and family just as much as romantic love – although traditional red and pink or heart-shaped decorations are still quite popular.
In Denmark, people include their friends in Valentine’s celebrations, sending them pressed white flowers called Snowdrops. It’s also traditional for men to send a “joking letter” to a girl, written in rhyme and unsigned except for a coded series of dots: one dot for each letter of his name, and if she guesses correctly she will receive an easter egg at Easter – and presumably gets the guy too!
Mass weddings have become an increasingly popular way of celebrating this romantic holiday in the Philippines, when hundreds of couples are all married at the same time in open public spaces.
In Catalonia, a region in the northeast of Spain, Valentine’s Day is a fairly minor event. Instead, Sant Jordi’s Day in April is considered a day for lovers and the most romantic day of the year. On this day, men give their lovers a red rose, while women give their sweetheart a book.