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Valentine’s Day around the world.

St Valentine’s Day and similar days celebrating love
Adapted from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Scan of a Valentine greeting card dated 1909.

Image via Wikipedia

In the West

Europe

In the UK, sending cards, flowers, chocolates and other gifts to prospective or current romantic partners is traditional. However, in Wales, many people celebrate Dydd Santes Dwynwen (St Dwynwen’s Day) on January 25 instead of (or as well as) Valentine’s Day. The day commemorates St Dwynwen, the patron saint of Welsh lovers.

In France, a traditionally Catholic country, Valentine’s Day is known simply as “Saint Valentin”, and is celebrated in much the same way as other western countries.

In Spain Valentine’s Day is known as “San Valentín” and is celebrated the same way as in the UK, although in Catalonia it is largely superseded by similar festivities of rose and/or book giving on La Diada de Sant Jordi (Saint George’s Day).

In Portugal it is more commonly referred to as “Dia dos Namorados” (Lover’s Day / Day of those that are in love with each other).

In Denmark and Norway, although February 14 is known as Valentinsdag, it is not celebrated to a large extent, but is largely imported from American culture, and some people take time to eat a romantic dinner with their partner, to send a card to a secret love or give a red rose to their loved one. The cut-flower industry in particular is still working on promoting the holiday.

In Sweden it is called Alla hjärtans dag (“All Hearts’ Day”) and was launched in the 1960s by the flower industry’s commercial interests, and due to the influence of American culture. It is not an official holiday, but its celebration is recognized and sales of cosmetics and flowers for this holiday are only exceeded by those for Mother’s Day.

In Finland Valentine’s Day is called Ystävänpäivä which translates into “Friend’s day”. As the name indicates, this day is more about remembering all your friends, not only your loved ones. In Estonia Valentine’s Day is called Sõbrapäev, which has the same meaning.

In Slovenia, a proverb says that “St Valentine brings the keys of roots”, so on February 14, plants and flowers start to grow. Valentine’s Day has been celebrated as the day when the first work in the vineyards and in the fields commences.

In Romania, the traditional holiday for lovers is Dragobete, which is celebrated on February 24. It is named after a character from Romanian folklore who was supposed to be the son of Baba Dochia.

In Lithuania and Latvia, it is common for people to put stickers on faces and clothing of a friend or a relative. The holiday was first celebrated after the two countries gained independence from Soviet Union in 1990.

In Greece and Cyprus, Valentine’s Day is called Ημέρα του Αγίου Βαλεντίνου , which translates into “St Valentines day”. In the Orthodox church there is another Saint to protect people who are in love, but for Greeks Valentine’s Day is more popular.

According to Jewish tradition the 15th day of the month of Av – Tu B’Av (usually late August) is the festival of love. In ancient times girls would wear white dresses and dance in the vineyards, where the boys would be waiting for them (Mishna Taanith end of Chapter 4). In modern Israeli culture this is a popular day to pronounce love, propose marriage and give gifts like cards or flowers.

Latin America

In some Latin American countries Valentine’s Day is known as “Día del Amor y la Amistad” (Day of Love and Friendship). For example Mexico, Costa Rica, Ecuador and Puerto Rico, as well as others. It is also common to see people perform “acts of appreciation” for their friends.

In Guatemala it is known as the “Día del Cariño” (Affection Day).

In Brazil, the Dia dos Namorados (lit. “Lovers’ Day”, or “Boyfriends’/Girlfriends’ Day”) is celebrated on June 12, probably because it is the day before Saint Anthony’s day, known there as the marriage saint, when traditionally many single women perform popular rituals, called simpatias, in order to find a good husband or boyfriend. Couples exchange gifts, chocolates, cards and flower bouquets. The February 14’s Valentine’s Day is not celebrated at all, mainly for cultural and commercial reasons, since it usually falls too little before or after Carnival (that can fall anywhere from early February to early March).

In Venezuela, in 2009, President Hugo Chávez said in a meeting to his supporters for the upcoming referendum vote on February 15, that “since on the 14th, there will be no time of doing nothing, nothing or next to nothing … maybe a little kiss or something very superficial”, he recommended people to celebrate a week of love after the referendum vote.

In most of Latin America the Día del amor y la amistad and the Amigo secreto (“Secret friend”) are quite popular and usually celebrated together on the 14 of February (one exception is Colombia, where it is celebrated every third Saturday of September). The latter consists of randomly assigning to each participant a recipient who is to be given an anonymous gift (similar to the Christmas tradition of Secret Santa).

East Asia

Thanks to a concentrated marketing effort, Valentine’s Day is celebrated in some Asian countries with Singaporeans, Chinese and South Koreans spending the most money on Valentine’s gifts.[53]

In South Korea, similar to Japan, women give chocolate to men on February 14, and men give non-chocolate candy to women on March 14 (White Day). On April 14 (Black Day), those who did not receive anything on the 14th of Feb or March go to a Korean restaurant to eat black noodles (자장면 jajangmyeon) and “mourn” their single life.

In China, the common situation is the man gives chocolate, flowers or both to the woman that he loves. In Chinese, Valentine’s Day is called (simplified Chinese: 情人节; traditional Chinese: 情人節; pinyin: qíng rén jié). The so-called “Chinese Valentine’s Day” is the Qixi Festival, celebrated on the seventh day of the seventh month of the lunar calendar. It commemorates a day on which a legendary cowherder and weaving maid are allowed to be together. Modern Valentine’s Day is also celebrated on February 14 of the solar calendar each year.

In Taiwan the situation is the reverse of Japan’s. Men give gifts to women on Valentine’s Day, and women return them on White Day.[54]

In the Philippines, Valentine’s Day is called “Araw ng mga Puso” or “Hearts Day”. It is usually marked by a steep increase in the prices of flowers.

In Japan, Morozoff Ltd. introduced the holiday for the first time in 1936, when it ran an advertisement aimed at foreigners. Later in 1953 it began promoting the giving of heart-shaped chocolates; other Japanese confectionery companies followed suit thereafter. In 1958 the Isetan department store ran a “Valentine sale”. Further campaigns during the 1960s popularized the custom.

Similar Asian traditions

In Chinese culture, there is an older observance related to lovers, called “The Night of Sevens” (Chinese: 七夕; pinyin: Qi Xi). According to the legend, the Cowherd star and the Weaver Maid star are normally separated by the milky way (silvery river) but are allowed to meet by crossing it on the 7th day of the 7th month of the Chinese calendar.

In Japan, a slightly different version of 七夕 called Tanabata has been celebrated for centuries, on July 7 (Gregorian calendar). It has been considered by Westerners as similar to St. Valentine’s Day, but it’s not related to it, and its origins are completely different.

India

In India, in the antiquity, there was a tradition of adoring Kamadeva, the lord of love; exemplificated by the erotic carvings in the Khajuraho Group of Monuments and by the writing of the Kamasutra treaty of lovemaking. This tradition was lost around the Middle Ages, when Kamadeva was no longer celebrated, and public displays of sexual affections became frowned upon. Around 1992 Valentine’s Day started catching on in India, with special TV and radio programs, and even love letter competitions. The economic liberalization also helped the Valentine card industry.

In modern times, Hindu and Islamic traditionalists consider the holiday to be cultural contamination from the West, result of the globalization in India. Shiv Sena and the Sangh Parivar have asked their followers to shun the holiday and the “public admission of love” because of them being “alien to Indian culture”. These protests are organized by political elites, but the protesters themselves are middle-class Hindu men who fear that the globalization will destroy the traditions in his society: arranged marriages, Hindu joint families, full-time mothers (see Housewife#India), etc. Despite these obstacles, Valentine’s Day is becoming increasingly popular in India.

Middle East

In Egypt, Egyptians celebrate Valentine’s Day on February 14.

In Iran, the Sepandarmazgan, or Esfandegan, is an age-old traditional celebration of love, friendship and Earth. It has nothing in common with the Saint Valentine celebration, except for a superficial similarity in giving affection and gifts to loved ones, and its origins and motivations are completely unrelated. It has been progressively forgotten in favor of the Western celebration of Valentine’s Day. The Association of Iran’s Cultural and Natural Phenomena has been trying since 2006 to make Sepandarmazgan a national holiday on 17 February, in order to replace the Western holiday.

In Israel, the Tu B’Av, is considered to be the Jewish Valentine’s Day following the ancient traditions of courtship on this day. Today, this is celebrated as a second holiday of love by secular people (besides Saint Valentine’s Day), and shares many of the customs associated with Saint Valentine’s Day in western societies.

In Saudi Arabia, in 2002 and 2011, religious police banned the sale of all Valentine’s Day items, telling shop workers to remove any red items, as the day is considered a Christian holiday. In 2008 this ban created a black market of roses and wrapping paper.

In Pakistan the concept of Valentine’s Day was first introduced during the late 1990s with special TV and radio programs. The Jamaat-e-Islami political party has called for the banning of Valentine’s Day celebration. Despite this, the celebration is becoming popular among urban youth and the florists expect to sell great amount of flowers, especially red roses. Same is the case with card publishers. However, the public at large still consider Valentine’s Day as opposed to Pakistani culture and Islamic teachings.

In Iran, during the first part of the 21st century, the celebration of Valentine’s Day in Iran has been harshly criticized by Islamic Teachers who see the celebrations as opposed to Islamic culture. In 2011, the Iranian printing works owners’ union issued a directive banning the printing and distribution of any goods promoting the holiday, including cards, gifts and teddy bears.

In Malaysia, officials warned Muslims against celebrating Valentine’s Day, linking it with vice activities. Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin said the celebration of romantic love was “not suitable” for Muslims. On Valentine’s Day 2011, Malaysian religious authorities arrested more than 100 Muslim couples concerning the celebration ban. Some of them would be charged in the Shariah Court for defying the department’s ban againsts the celebration of Valentine’s Day.

Link to original article, which includes copious references HERE

1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Valentine’s Day in different countries « Malcolm's English Pages
    Feb 14, 2013 @ 07:37:16

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