Article Graphic made on Canva for Valentine's Day around the World

Valentine's Day Around the World

(Editor's note: During this time of uncertainty, Her Campus at WVU writers are looking back on brighter days.)

In the United States, Valentine’s Day is greeted with heart-shaped boxes of chocolates, as well as cards with words full of love. It has become a day that has an abundance of flowers, dates and affection. In other parts of the world, a day meant to be about love is celebrated differently.

Jumping to the land of the rising sun, Japan’s version of Valentine’s Day is one-sided. Women are the ones doing the giving. While this may seem different from the U.S., one similar characteristic is that women are giving men chocolates and candy.

On this day a woman will gift their male-friends with premade chocolate or, "Giri-choco.” Men who are lucky enough to have the girls’ affection receive "honmei-chocos." This chocolate is either handmade or on the more expensive side. While this may be viewed as a one-sided holiday, women have their own day in March. On March 14, Japan celebrates White Day. On this day, men usually return the affection by providing white chocolates as well as other white themed gifts to show their feelings.

Let’s take a trip to the cold north--Finland celebrates a more inclusive Valentine’s Day. Ystävänpäivä, which translates to Friends Day, includes family, friends, neighbors and colleagues into the holiday filled with affection. On Friend’s Day, Finns follow the same U.S. tradition of handing out flowers, cards and chocolates. One interesting thing about this day in Finland is that Feb. 14 is a popular day for couples to get engaged!

Denmark really switches things up when celebrating this love-filled holiday. In this nordic country, funny poems called “gaekkebrev” are written in cards and given to their special someone. A gaekkebrev is a love poem that has intricate designs cut into it using scissors. The reason these poems are considered funny is that they are anonymously signed with dots. If the receiver can guess who sent them the letter, they will receive an Easter egg (typically in pastry form) later in the year. However, if they are unable to guess, the sender will be the one receiving an Easter egg. To add to Denmark tradition, unlike the rose which is given on Valentine’s Day in the U.S., Danes typically give snowdrops to those they send their gaekkebrev to. The reason this is the flower of choice is that it is a sign of the not-quite-arrived season of spring.

The final country to look at is Germany. Valentinstag, as the holiday is referred to in Germany, is similar to the U.S. in many ways. Cards, flowers and candy are exchanged on this holiday. One thing that is different on this day is that it is strictly an adult holiday. Children do not exchange cards or candy during school. One other thing that is specific to Valentinstag is that the symbol is a pig. Pigs are displayed holding flowers, chocolate hearts and four-leaf clovers. This is to symbolize the luck and lust of Valentinstag. Lastly, giant ginger cookies are given with frosting accents displaying messages.  

While each country has its unique celebrations, Valentine's Day is meant to show those you love that you appreciate them! So this year, why not try another country’s tradition? Maybe give your best friend a ginger cookie? Give your mom a snowdrop! Make your boyfriend homemade chocolate! No matter what you make or give, make sure you do it with love♥.

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Edited by Kenzie Dye