Valentine’s Day has become a widely known celebration throughout the world, however, not every culture celebrates the holiday in the same way. Each individual culture has a unique way of celebrating this holiday which sets it apart from Western traditions. Throughout time there have been varying degrees of how to express your love towards someone, specifically a significant other, but Valentine’s Day is the day in which that form of expression is explicitly shown.
In Japan, Valentine’s Day is a day in which chocolate is given to loved ones by girls. The type of chocolate that is mainly given to family members and co-workers, is called “giri-choco,” (a chocolate given out of obligation). Women also give chocolates to their romantic interest or their significant other, however, the type of chocolates vary from expensive store bought chocolate or “honmei-choco” (homemade chocolate). On the following month on March 14th, there is a tradition called “White Day” where men return the favor of gift giving to women.
In Ireland, Valentine’s Day consists of multiple traditions, among them is the Claddagh ring, a ring in which was used as a wedding ring to symbolize friendship, love and loyalty. The ring’s symbolic status is represented depending on how the ring is worn. If the ring is worn on the right hand with the point of the heart facing towards the fingertip this represents that the person is single and looking for a partner. If the ring is worn on the right hand with the point of the heart facing towards the wrist this represents that the person is in a relationship. If the ring is worn on the left hand with the point of the heart facing the fingertip this represents that the person is engaged. If the ring is worn on the left hand with the point of the heart facing the wrist this represents that the person is married.
In Spain, there is a carnival season that falls on Valentine’s Day, and it is celebrated throughout the Canary Islands, Cadiz, or Sitges. During the carnival there are colorful parades throughout the streets, unique processions, and fireworks. On April 23rd, there is a public holiday celebrated in Barcelona called “El dia de la rosa” (The day of the rose), where there is an exchange of roses and books between loved ones.
No matter where you are in the world, Valentine’s Day is a day where you can express your love towards others.