Valentine's Day: Romantic Revelry around the World!

Written on February 2nd, 2016

Valentine's Day is celebrated differently across the world, Having moved to North America from the UK, I noticed that in Britain February 14th is earmarked for boyfriends & girlfriends and husbands & wives.  In Canada, the day is shared across-the-board.  Here, the cashier at the local supermarket might wish me Happy Valentine’s Day, schools celebrate and set up Valentine’s mail-boxes, and families often celebrate the day together. This led to my researching how other countries celebrate Valentine’s Day (or not). Here is a selection of interesting Valentine's facts, including Finland's version of a romantic meal - the fishrooster!


Valentine’s Day, or Dia dos Namorados, is celebrated on June 12th as Brazilians celebrate Carnival (think Rio de Janeiro) starting the day before Lent, which occurs in February or March. Cities in Brazil begin set up for the June day of love several days ahead of time; the streets are lined with lights and decorations, and there may even be concerts and rock shows to commemorate the day. Peruvians take advantage of being on vacation for their February Carnival celebrations, and often hold mass-weddings on February 14th.  Native orchids are given more often than roses.


The equivalent to Valentine’s Day in China is Qixi, or the Seventh Night Festival, which falls on the seventh day of the seventh lunar month each year. During Qixi, young women prepare offerings of melon and other fruits to Zhinu, who according to ancient lore was a heavenly king’s daughter who married a cowherd. The King sent his daughter back to the stars but finally allowed the lovers to meet once a year on Qixi. Present day people can observe the story in the night skies as the stars Vega and Altair (Zhinu and her husband Niulang) cross paths during their annual reunion.


If you are single you will enjoy Ystävänpäivä or Friendship Day as it is named. The focus is on celebrating friends and friendships. The official flower is the pink rose. The official meal is Kalakukko (or fishrooster) which is fish, complete with bones, wrapped in pork- fat enclosed in rye dough.


It’s the men who are pampered in this part of the world on Valentine’s Day. Women buy chocolates for their male partners, family members and coworkers as a token of affection and appreciation.  The favour is returned on March 14th when White Day is celebrated. South Korea has added Black Day on April 14th for single people who didn’t get any attention during the previous celebrations; Friends gather together at restaurants and eat black noodles, that is - noodles with black bean sauce.


As in many parts of the world, South Africa celebrates Valentine’s Day with festivals, flowers and other tokens of love; cupids, hearts and love-birds sit alongside traditional African decorations.  Even today it is customary for women in South Africa to wear their hearts on their sleeves on February 14th.  They pin the names of their love interest on their shirtsleeves, following the ancient Roman tradition known as Lupercalia. Of course we have romantic and friendship beads at our Summerland Studio.   Enjoy!  

  Denise Howie