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Valentines’ Around the World

Valentines’ Day is becoming more popular across the globe, but do you know how it is celebrated in other countries?

I spent a few years in Korea and that is where I first heard of the different days for men and women to give and receive gifts. It is now customary in Korea that the 14th day of every month has some kind of significance although most people only celebrate three of them. On Valentines’ Day (Feb 14th) Korean women give gifts, mainly chocolate, to men. The following month (March 14th) it is ‘White Day’ and this is when men are expected to reciprocate and give gifts to the women.  Next is April 14th ‘Black Day’, this is the day when groups of single people (mostly women) get together and eat black noodles (a Korean/Chinese dish called jajangmyun) and complain about being single!

The Japanese were the first to come up with the Valentines + White Day custom but they don’t have the other days for every month like the Koreans do.

In Finland the day focuses much less on lovers and more on friends, it wouldn’t be strange to give your friends a gift to remind them you care.

Last year in Malaysia authorities were desperately trying to stop any Valentines’ Day celebrations in the largely Muslim county, with officials worrying that it encouraged immoral behavior. Police carried out raids on hotels looking for unmarried couples sharing rooms, the BBC reported over 80 arrests were made on Feb 14th 2011.

In India, despite being the home of the Karmasutra, celebrating is largely frowned upon. Public displays of affection are considered taboo and so Valentines’ Day is too.

So how do you celebrate where you are? Do you celebrate at all?

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