Celebrating Valentine’s Day around the world

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This coming Wednesday is the day when the National Retail Federation predicts that over $18 billion will be spent by people in the United States to profess their love to another, meaning that $137 per person will be spent on each person participating in the festivities of this day. It’s Valentine’s Day.

While this may look like a huge amount, keep in mind that during the holidays of 2017, people in the United States spent over $3 trillion for gifts, decorations and celebrations of Christmas and Hanukkah. Valentine’s Day may be a day when one thinks he reaches deep into his wallet to show his love to his mate, but it is pale in comparison to the winter holidays.

Valentine’s Day is a fairly “new holiday.” In Britain, Valentine’s Day did not become a tradition until the mid-19th century when the first handmade cards were made by star-struck lovers for one another with the United States celebrations not far behind.

It was during the 20th century that Valentine’s Day became extremely popular in the USA. It was then that schools began having each student make a special box in which to receive Valentine messages from classmates.

Now, in the 21st century, we find ourselves purchasing the traditional roses and candy for our loved ones for an astounding amount of money. The price of long-stemmed red roses will double in price for delivery on Feb. 14 and a “Large Valentines Chocolate Heart Truffle Box Milk Free Nut Free Gluten Free” box of chocolate is available on Amazon for $50. But if you’re a “Prime Member,” you do get free shipping!

The USA is not the only country that celebrates Valentine’s Day or a form of a “Lover’s Day” on either Feb. 14 or another set day during the year. Other counties have their own unique way of remembering their loved ones on a special day.

France, considered by many as one of the most romantic destinations in the world, has long been celebrating Valentine’s Day. It is said that the first Valentine’s Day card originated in 1415 when Charles Duke of Orleans sent a love letter to his wife as she was imprisoned in the Tower of London and he signed it “Your Valentine.”

Perhaps, the most controversial Valentine Day event was held in France called the “loterie d’amour” (Drawing for Love). At this event, single men and women would line up opposite one another and the men would pick “his match” from the line of women.  The women who were not called out by a man would then build a bonfire and burn the photos of the men who rejected them while hurling insults and curses. This practice was later band by the French government.

On Valentine’s Day in South Africa, women pinned a heart that contains the name of their sweethearts to their sleeve. This was also an effective method for the women to let the men know whom they secretly admire.

In Russia, Defender of the Fatherland Day is celebrated on Feb. 23 with the women giving the special men in their lives small gifts to honor those who have fought or will fight to defend their country. In turn, on Mar. 8, International Women’s Day is celebrated with men giving gifts to the women in their lives.

Apr. 23 is World Book Day in Barcelona. On that day, Barcelonans celebrate Sant Jordi Day when at which time men are given gifts of books and women are given roses.

In Germany, the celebration of Valentine’s Day is not as commercial as in other parts of the world. Lovers will exchange gifts of flowers, candy and heart-shaped gingerbread cookies along with a picture or small statue or candy shaped pig. The pig represents luck and lust.

Lovers in Argentina celebrate Valentine’s Day on Feb. 14 but they also set aside seven days in July to celebrate Sweetness Week. During those seven days, friends and lovers exchange candies and kisses. The week ends with the last day being declared Friendship Day.

Mexico’s version of Valentine’s Day, El Dia del Amor y la Amistad, translates to The Day of Love and Friendship. The people of Mexico spend Feb. 14 honoring and showing appreciation to the people that they love. Flowers, candy, ribbons and balloons are given to their romantic partners. Small gifts or greeting cards are given to family and friends.  Often, a young lover will hire a group of Mariachis to accompany him as he serenades his beloved from below her window. This fascinating Mexican tradition has been in practice since ancient days.

The people of Taiwan bring a romantic bouquet of roses to an entirely new level. Twice a year, Feb. 14 and July 7, men are expected to give a bouquet to their sweetheart.  However, according to Taiwanese tradition, the color and number of roses give a special message. Red roses represent an only love, 99 roses express love forever and 108 roses asks the question, “Will you marry me?”

The women in Japan celebrate Valentine’s Day by giving chocolates to their male friends, colleagues and even their bosses. A month later, on Mar. 14, the men are obliged to return the gifts with chocolates and more. This day is called White Day.

The lovers in South Korea celebrate much like the Japanese with the giving of chocolate to the men on Feb. 14 with the men returning the favor to the women on Mar. 14, White Day. For those who found themselves not celebrating on either day, Koreans also observe Black Day on Apr. 14. On that day, singles get together to eat jajangmyeon noodles, which are black bean-based noodles, to share in their pity.

However, the singles have several other days to make up for their missed romance. On the 14th of every month, a loved related holiday is celebrated: Candle Day, Valentine’s Day, White Day, Black Day, Rose Day, Kiss Day, Silver Day, Green Day, Music Day, Wine Day, Movie Day and Hug Day.

When one considers all of the various Valentine’s Day traditions throughout the world, it still comes down to one fact.

Valentine’s Day is the perfect day to express your love to those around you. On Wednesday, may we all find a way to express our love to those who have made a positive difference in our lives.

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