In Norfolk, England, a character called “Jack Valentine" knocks on the rear door of houses leaving sweets and presents for children. France used to practice an unusual custom called “une loterie d'amour,” where single men and women gathered in houses facing each other. After yelling out to one another, they would pair off. If the man wasn't especially enthralled with his chosen Valentine, he could desert her in the middle of the day. That night, the deserted women would build a bonfire together to burn the images of the men who had scorned them and shout abuses at them. Eventually, the French government shut down the practice….sounds like a good call!
The country of Slovenia has a proverb saying that “St. Valentine brings the keys of roots,” so on Feb. 14th, plants and flowers start to grow. The day has also been celebrated as the day when work in vineyards and fields commences, and it is said that birds propose to each other or marry on that day! Lithuanians and Latvians have celebrated the holiday since they gained independence from the Soviet Union in 1990. They commonly put stickers on the faces or clothing of loved ones to commemorate the occasion.
In some Latin American countries, such as Mexico, Costa Rica, Ecuador and Puerto Rico, Valentine’s Day is known as “the day of love and friendship.” It is common to see people perform acts of appreciation for their friends. What a great idea!
During the mid-nineteenth century, Australia’s gold rush sparked a surge in population and wealth. Valentine’s Day increased in popularity at this time, with miners sending ornate cards or other gifts to the recipient. The most heavily adorned gifts consisted of a box neatly packed with a satin cushion and decorated with items like colored shells, ribbons, taxidermied hummingbirds and flowers. (Note: To anyone planning to give me a Valentine's gift, I think I'll pass on the taxidermied hummingbird...thanks anyway!)
In South Korea, women give chocolate to men on Feb. 14th, and men give non-chocolate candy to women on March 14th. On April 14th (Black Day), those who did not receive anything on either of those days get together to eat black noodles and “mourn” their single life! Taiwan’s celebration is all about the flowers; men give women a carefully chosen quantity of flowers to signify a specific message. One rose means “love”; 11 roses means “favorite”; 99 means “forever”; and 108 roses means “Will you marry me?”
Valentine’s Day is literally a commercialized holiday in Japan; in 1960, a candy company in Tokyo began the tradition of women giving chocolate to men on February 14th…but not only to one man! Office ladies, in particular, are expected to give their male coworkers chocolates that specifically communicate their feelings toward each man. They give honmei-choko, or “favorite chocolate” to the man they love; giri-choko or “obligatory chocolate” to a man they feel neutral about; and cho-giri-choko or “super-cheap obligatory chocolate” to someone who is disliked…ouch! On March 14th, men who received good chocolate buy comparatively expensive gifts for their female beneficiaries.
Around 1992, Valentine’s Day started catching on in India, with special TV and radio programs and even love letter competitions. Despite the fact that some are very much against this western tradition, the holiday is becoming increasingly popular in this country.
On Malaysia's day of love, which falls on the seventh day of the seventh month of the lunar calendar, women write their phone numbers on oranges before throwing them into a river, hoping that the man of their dreams might pick one up. Fruit vendors often collect the oranges, which are considered a lucky fruit, and resell them at the market—phone numbers and all! Now, "orange" you glad we told you about this tradition?
Hopefully you have enjoyed reading about these different and unique customs practiced around the world. We hope that you will also enjoy the day, no matter how you choose to spend it. Remember to cherish those who have touched your heart and let them know they are appreciated. And don't forget how very much you are loved, by the One who is Love. Leave us a note below and let us know your plans for Valentine's Day! ♥