Valentine’s Day can seem very formulaic to most people. Classic romantic gestures include chocolate, jewellery, flowers and luxurious dining – providing someone remembered to book.
With the occasion coming round every year these can quickly wear thin and so great Valentine’s day ideas can be found elsewhere. A great source of inspiration is other countries where love and romance is celebrated in a huge range of diverse customs.
The Japanese Valentine’s tradition certainly has more of a sense of equality about it. Women are expected to spend lavishly on treating all the men in their lives to chocolate – from lovers and friends to collegaues and bosses. “Honmei”, meaning true love, is bought for lovers while “giri” or obligatory gifts are given to other men.
However, a month later this generosity is returned on White Day when men are expected to reciprocate with a white gift.
Spending Valentine’s Day single? Estonia has a more open “Friend’s Day” with non-romantic relationships like friends and family exchanging gifts. That said, there’s still plenty for couples but the focus is much broader.
As for Bulgaria 14th February is Winemaker’s Day and so any romance that should occur is merely secondary to the drinking celebration.
In the Philippines Valentine’s Day is celebrated through mass group weddings with thousands married in single ceremonies led by government officials.
Another slightly excessive Valentine’s tradition is in South Korea with romance celebrated on the 14th of every month. Argentina also goes for volume with a whole week in July designated “Sweetness Week” when kisses are exchanged for confectionary. It started in 1989 in Argentina as a result of an advertising campaign “a candy for a kiss” created by the brand Arcor. It was part of a marketing strategy to increase sales.
Initially the campaign focus on a new Arcor´s product “Bon o Bon”, but now all kinds of sweets are valid for the exchange. It is estimated that during this week of the year, sales increased by 20%.
Valentine’s Day is certainly tied to commercialism wherever you go, but travelling for Valentine’s Day and experiencing these other cultures and traditions can be a great way to show affection while enhancing your own mind.