In Japan Valentine’s day is not only a day for couples. On February 14th, Girls in Japan give out chocolates to their friends, significant others, and coworkers. Giri-choco (“obligation chocolate”) is cheaper and is given to friends, whereas honmei-choco (“true feeling chocolate”) is usually homemade and is meant for one’s significant other or crush.
On top of Valentine’s day on February 14th, white day is celebrated a month later on March 14th. White day is a chance for men who received chocolate on valentine’s day to return the favour with white coloured treats, such as marshmallows or white chocolate. White day began in Japan in 1978, but other Asian countries now also celebrate white day, including China, Taiwan, Vietnam and South Korea.
On Valentine’s eve (February 13th), women in England used to place 5 bay leaves on their pillows (one in each corner and one in the centre) to welcome dreams of their future husbands.
In Norfolk, Jack Valentine (aka. Old Father Valentine) would leave treats and small gifts on the porches of families with children on Feb 14th.
An old Italian Valentine’s day tradition is for young, unmarried girls to wake up before dawn to spot their future husbands. The belief was that the first man a lady saw on Valentine’s day was the man she would marry within a year, or he would strongly resemble the man she would marry.
Today, Italians celebrate Valentine’s with gift exchanges and romantic dinners, and many, many chocolate-covered hazelnuts.
Although Western Holidays such as Valentine’s day and white day are becoming more popular in China, the oldest Chinese romantic holiday is called QiXi (“seventh night festival”). QiXi is celebrated on the 7th day of the 7th lunar month each year (August 14, 2021 on Gregorian calendar this year).
The basis of the holiday is from an old Chinese Folklore of lovers: NiuLang (M) & ZhiNu (F), who were forcefully separated onto two sides of the milky way by ZhiNu’s mother. Every year the couple (represented by the stars Vega and Altair) is only able to reunite on the night of QiXi with the help of magpies who form a bridge across the milky way.
Chinese couples and young, single women observe the holiday by heading to the temples to pray for happiness and prosperity in their relationships. At night, people will watch the heavens to watch the stars Vega and Altair (ZhiNu and NiuLang, respectively) come close during the star-crossed lovers’ annual reunion.
Feb 14th is a day for mass wedding ceremonies in Philippines. Hundreds of couples will gather at malls or other public areas around the country to get married or renew their vows in the presence of a large crowd.
Brazilians skip the February 14th celebration and instead celebrate Dia dos Namorados, or “Lovers’ Day” on June 12th. There will be an exchange of chocolates, flowers, cards, but in addition to that, music festivals and performances are held across the country. Gift giving is not limited to couples either, gifts and dinner is shared amongst friends and relatives!
The day after, on June 13th is Saint Anthony’s Day, honouring the patron saint of marriage. On this day single women perform the simpatias ritual in hopes that St. Anthony will bring them a husband.
Korea observes a romantic holiday on the 14th of every month! A list is provided here:
- Jan 14 - Diary Day
- Feb 14 - Valentine's Day
- Mar 14 - White Day
- April 14 - Black Day
- May 14 - Rose Day
- June 14 - Kiss Day
- July 14 - Silver Day
- Aug 14 - Green Day
- Sep 14 - Photo Day
- Oct 14 - Wine Day
- Nov 11 - Pepero Day
- Nov 14 - Movie Day
- Dec 14 - Hug Day
Not all Korean couples will celebrate all of these holidays, but there are some very dedicated couples who regard these traditions highly.
The next time you’re in one of these countries, you and your significant other can observe these holidays for yourselves 😊
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