Kempinski Blog Article
Many couples have their own rituals for Valentine's Day, from dining out in a well-loved restaurant to visiting the place where they first met. But how is this annual celebration of love observed around the world? From Europe to Africa, here are some of the globe's most intriguing Valentine's Day traditions.
As one of the biggest cocoa producers in the world, it is no surprise that chocolate plays a bigger role than usual in Ghanaians' Valentine's Day celebrations. In fact, the day was renamed National Chocolate Day in 2007 – and while lovebirds still find time for romance on February 14th, even the lonely-hearted can get on board with the appreciation of chocolate.
China, Taiwan, Japan and South Korea
In many East Asian countries, Valentine's Day works somewhat differently, with women and girls presenting their male friends with chocolate gifts. The quality of the chocolate can mean a great deal: for instance, in Japan a casual acquaintance or co-worker might get cheap "giri-choco" (literally "obligation chocolate") while the lucky favourite receives "honmei-choco" ("true feelings chocolate").
One month later on March 14th, men who received chocolate from the opposite sex are supposed to return the favour with white chocolate or other white-coloured sweets, in a tradition known as White Day. These celebrations vary from country to country: in South Korea it is traditional for men to give lollipops instead of chocolate, while in Taiwan the gender roles are reversed for Valentine's Day and White Day.
In Slovenia, Valentine's Day is important for the farming community – it is believed to be a lucky day to start preparing the soil for the spring ahead. It is also thought to be the time the birds of the field propose to their mates, which can only be witnessed if one walks through the countryside barefoot. However, the traditional day for humans to express their love in Slovenia comes nearly a month later, on March 12th.
There is an ancient belief in Italy that if a young, unmarried girl gets up before dawn on Valentine's Day, the first man she sees will be the man she will marry before the year is out. It is also traditional to give your loved one chocolate-covered hazelnut sweets known as baci perigina, which come wrapped in love notes.
Instead of St Valentine, the Welsh celebrate St Dwynwen's Day on January 25th. According to legend, Dwrnwen was a princess whose lover Maelon was turned into a block of ice, before she was able to thaw him out with the help of some divine intervention. One interesting Welsh tradition is the giving of "love spoons": these ornately-carved pieces of cutlery have been presented as symbols of romantic intent for hundreds of years.