Here’s how to gift yourself and your loved ones a Tour Around the World this Valentine’s Day

Edited By: Anushka Bidani (UG22)

Clueless about what you wanna do this Valentine's Day that's not in the ballpark of being glued-down to your sofa with your bae watching Netflix with good ol' take-out in your sweatpants? What if I tell you that I've got a plan for you to go on an exhilarating mini trip around the world with your S.O., your pal-gals and family, or simply going doe without burning a hole in your pocket? Sounds crazy yet tempting, right? 

While most of us readily assume that Valentine's Day is all about roses, chocolates, love letters, and candle-lit dinners, you'll be amazed to hear the multifarious traditions for this reasonably old celebration from different cultures. While in Wales you'll find intricately carved wooden 'love spoons', in the Philippines you'll find Mass Weddings and Vow Renewals in large malls and other public areas.

If your theme for this year's V-day is quirky, cliché-free and wholesome, here's a list of some unique Valentine's Day customs and recipes from different countries that'll give you the taste of love from around the world. And guess what, you can have 'em sweatpants on! 

Now that I've mentioned the Welsh Love Spoons already, let's start our journey from the beautiful country of Wales.

 

Welsh hand-carved Wooden Love Spoons

The supreme event of love for the people from Wales is when they celebrate Saint Dwynwen, the Welsh patron saint of lovers, on January 25th where the traditional romantic gift is the love spoon with intricate carvings of symbols and patterns with different meanings.

You can kick start your Day of Love by gifting your partner or yourself one of these beautiful spoons from Amazon

Or, if you're up for an early morning creative endeavor, you (and your partner) can carve for each other some simple designs like a wheel (symbolizing support) and some hearts or their initials on simple wooden dinnerware spoons. After you're done exchanging the spoons, they can go up your wall or memory boxes, or if you're the daring kind, they'll probably land in the sink after your morning cereal binge.

 

Gaekkebrev and Snowdrops from Denmark

Instead of gifting roses, the Danish have added their own twist to this holiday by exchanging pressed white flowers called snowdrops. Accompanying this is another cool and unique custom of sending "lover's cards" with funny poems signed anonymously with a series of dots (the same number as in the name of the sender). If the receiver correctly guesses the sender's name, he/she is gifted an easter egg.

While this might seem pointless if both the parties are already together, you can jazz it up your own way by writing the message in morse-code instead!

 

Plant a Lovers' tree like the French do!

The French traditionally celebrated Valentine's Day with une loterie d'amour where single people standing outside houses called out for other singletons until they were eventually paired off together. However, their usual V-day plans now include the exchange of love letters called cartes d’amities, decking houses with roses, attaching padlocks to bridge railings and planting trees to commemorate love. So what are you waiting for? Plant your very own lovers' tree!

 

Treat yourself to some giant, sweet, ginger cookies from Germany and Hazelnut candies from Italy

Germans love nibbling on giant six-inch Ginger cookies called Lebkuchen with messages for their Valentine’s iced on 'em, most commonly "Ich Liebe Dich" (German for "I love you"). Here's a recipe for baking your own Giant Ginger Cookies-

German Gingerbread Hearts (Markt Lebkuchenherzen)

Another interesting thing to note is the plentiful presence of everything 'pig' on this strictly adults-only day of romance in Germany, for the animal is a symbol of luck and lust. So cooking a pork lunch wouldn't be a bad idea.

After a romantic Lunch, you can munch on some Baci Perugina, which are small, chocolate-covered hazelnuts wrapped with a romantic quote printed in four languages, just like the Italians do.

 

Can't get over roses? Wanna have a test of 'em?

Here's a sip of the famous Rose Water Tea from the Middle-East 

Just boil a pot of water, add a couple of teaspoons of Rose Water and some sugar and you've got yourself a delightful hot cup of romance from the Middle East. You can add a cardamom pod, a cinnamon stick or any spice of your choice to zhuzh it up to please your taste buds.

 

Finally time to binge on some chocolate? National Chocolate Day in Ghana

If Valentine's Day brings to your mind the thought of chocolates, you'll be pleased to know that Ghana has, in fact, declared 14th February as the National Chocolate Day. Here are some easy easy chocolate recipes you can experiment with.

 

South Africans wear their hearts on their sleeves. Quite Literally.

Yes, you read that right. Apart from sharing gifts, flowers, and chocolates, women in South Africa pin the names of their love interest on their shirtsleeves- an ancient Roman tradition known as Lupercalia giving quite an obvious hint to the South African men of their secret admirers. Is the hopeless romantic in you calling for a serious (some may call it cheesy) Initials embroidery-stitching session?

 

Melon, Fruits, and Rice from China

How about adding in some Melon and other fruits with your evening Middle Eastern Rose Tea? Qixi, or the Seventh Night Festival, which falls on the seventh day of the seventh lunar month each year is for the Chinese what Valentine's Day is in the West. This festival of love solemnizes the tragic tale of two star-crossed lovers who are imagined to be reunited on this day every year. People prepare Melons and other fruits as an offering, praying for prosperity in relationships.

Heading to your dinner prep, you can opt to bring in the culture of South West China on your plate by cooking an Asian rice dish wrapped in silk with a little surprise with a hidden meaning. This custom is famously followed in Miao, China where finding two chopsticks within the rice packet means love but a clove of garlic is the ultimate heartbreak for the admirer.

 

Here are some Asian Rice dinner dishes to try out this Valentine's Day.

 

Heart-shaped Omelettes from South Korea

A perfect add-on to your Asian Rice – these omelettes are a treat for your eye and your tastebuds. Here's how to make them.

As a side note, you can also try the famous jajangmyeon or black bean-paste noodles which singles eat to mourn their solitary status.

 

 Dia dos Namorados, Brazil

After dinner, you can bring in the festivities of the "Lover's Day" from Brazil by grooving to your favorite tunes.

 

Finish off with a Mocadora from Spain 

For Valencians, who chose to rejoice love on the Day of Saint Dionysius, the ultimate custom of Mocadora involves gifting one's partner marzipan sweets as a token of their love. Here's how you can get some for yours.

 

...and wine, of course, like the Bulgarians!

14th February in Bulgaria is celebrated as  Winemaker's Day so the most popular trend is to celebrate love with a glass or two of some of Bulgaria's delicious wine. What a way to end the Day !

 

And with this, ladies, we’ve come full circle and you’ve got yourself a romantic trip ‘round the globe!