Valentine’s Day is just around the corner. For those who are in love, it’s something to look forward to. For those who are single, not so much. Let me start by admitting that I’m a member of the latter group, which is partly what prompted my online quest to see how people celebrate Valentine’s Day around the world. The results were surprising, to say the least.
Books are the new roses
In Catalonia, Spain, the locals commemorate the death of Saint George with the Diada de Sant Jordi on the 23rd of April. This is also known as El Dia de la Rosa (The Day of the Rose) or El Dia del Libre (The Day of the Book). When I was studying in Barcelona, I experienced just how festive this day can be. Gaudí’s architectural masterpieces are festooned with roses and you can buy roses and books everywhere. Men give a red rose to their partner, while women give their partners books. If you get a chance, you must definitely join the Sant Jordi celebrations in Barcelona. If you’re a woman, you are likely to be showered with roses. If you’re a man, you should probably check what the policy is on e-books, to avoid excess baggage charges on the return trip…
On Sant Jordi men give a rose to their partner. And even I got one!
The Brazilian version of Valentine’s Day is celebrated the 12th of June, which is known as the Dia dos Namorados, the Day of Lovers. I’m from Brabant Province, where we celebrate carnival, so the 12th of June would be a better date for me, because Valentine’s Day is often just before or just after carnival, which means it’s usually swept away on the festive tide…of beer. Another surprising difference between the Dutch and Brazilian Day of Lovers is that only the Brazilian ladies try to get a man. The guys just sit back and wait! These are my people! Watch out, Brazil, here I come!
7 x7 = lucky in love
The Chinese version of Valentine’s Day is known as Qixi or the Double Seventh Festival, because it takes place on the seventh day of the seventh month. To complicate matters, Qixi will be on the 28th of August this year. On this day, local girls demonstrate their skills to impress the guys. They do this by trying to float a needle on water, for instance. If the needle doesn’t sink, it’s seen as a sign that the girl is an adult and ready to choose a partner. Why? Because it means she’s good a needlework, which some consider to be an indispensable skill for any woman. Maybe I can attract Cupid’s arrow with a crash course in embroidery.
Black noodles, anyone?
In Japan and South-Korea, men get chocolates from the ladies on Valentine’s Day. This marks the start of a very tense month for the women, because it is their turn to get chocolates from the men on the 14th of March. Those less fortunate make their way to a restaurant to eat black noodles and mourn their continued existence as a single. I certainly hope this won’t be my fate, but I’ll stock up on black noodles just in case. You never know!
Step by step
The Rumanian Day of Love is called Dragobete and is traditionally a public holiday. On the 24th of February, boys and girls celebrate the start of spring and the passing of winter. It is believed that the person who steps on the foot of his or her beloved is the dominant party in the relationship. When I read about this tradition, I was suddenly reminded of my tango lessons in Argentina. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t NOT stand on my dance partner’s feet. Perhaps I should try my luck in Rumania!
All this is something of a relief, because it means I have plenty of Valentine’s Days to choose from – both in terms of timing and tradition. But no matter when, where and how you celebrate it, the objective is always the same: to find and reaffirm love. If you’re really good at planning, you can travel the world celebrating love all over the place. And of course KLM would be more than willing to lend Cupid a helping hand!