Just like other holidays, Valentine’s Day is celebrated in different ways around the world.
Growing up in Mexico, we celebrated the “Day of Love and Friendship” on February 14th. On this day, it is common for dating or married couples to go out together to eat or for coffee. Street vendors sell clumps of roses or heart-shaped balloons at many street corners. One of my favorite things about Valentine’s Day is Mexico is the importance of friendship. This is not just a holiday for school kids and couples. Many friends exchange gifts or give flowers to each other, too. It truly is a day for love AND friendship.
In the Philippines, people celebrate much like we do in the US, but there is also a big trend to have huge weddings with many people all getting married at once on February 14th. These weddings take place in public places and can include hundreds of couples. Sometimes these are sponsored by the government as a public service.
(Photo from skitterphoto.com)
In Brazil, many people skip celebrating on February 14th and decide to celebrate on June 12th instead. This is the “Dia dos Namorados” or “Lover’s Day”, and they exchange gifts and eat together. Families and friends also can get together to celebrate as well.
While in most countries it is the women that receive gifts, in Japan and South Korea the women give gifts to the men on Valentine’s Day. The men can then respond in kind on March 14th, when it is their turn to shower the women with gifts. I think this sounds like fun!
In South Africa, women wear the name of the man they are interested in on a heart on their sleeve. This stems from an ancient Roman festival, but this could be a really fun way for a guy to find out which girl has a crush on him!
Do you love chocolate? Maybe you’ll want to visit Ghana on February 14th. It is National Chocolate Day there and you can find many chocolate items and meals prepared with chocolate throughout the country. Since they are a big producer and exporter of cocoa, they should know a thing or two about chocolate. 😉
If you love Valentine’s Day, there are some countries that you would NOT enjoy on this special holiday. Some Muslim areas of Indonesia have banned the celebration, since it is not an Islamic holiday and has “Christian” origins. If you celebrate in Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Iran, or Malaysia you risk punishment.
How does your family celebrate? Do you have specific traditions? Maybe you could invite an international student in your city over to eat and talk about how they celebrate!