First: Who Is Valentine?
In 3rd Century Rome (that’s the 200s), Emperor Claudius pointed out that single guys made better soldiers than married men or those with families. So he outlawed marriage for young soldiers.
Saint Valentine began doing secret weddings to counteract this injustice and was executed for it. There’s another legend that says he died helping imprisoned Christians escape.
Different Cultures Celebrate Valentine’s Day Differently
Whatever the case, Valentine’s tale has a certain romance to it, and it’s a bit darker than most people expect! In today’s world, his sacrifice is commemorated with a date night in the middle of the year’s coldest month, February. And, indeed, because of St. Valentine’s sacrifice, relationships tend to flourish, and more people are born who can carry on the tradition.
Generally, Valentine’s Day is a good holiday. Here’s the thing: it’s not celebrated the same everywhere, even though it’s a somewhat global “holiday”. Following we’ll briefly explore a few different ways Valentine’s Day is celebrated throughout the world.
1. France Invented Valentine’s Day Cards
In France, many traditions maintain Charles, Duke of Orleans, sent his wife love letters from prison in the 1400s. Also, in France, there’s a village called Valentine that has exceptional landscaping designed to facilitate romantic bliss for visiting couples. If you’re in France during the cold month of February, visit Valentine with your valentine.
2. South Korea: Let’s Just Do This Thing Every Month
In South Korea, the fourteenth of every month is a sort of Valentine’s Day celebration. One month is for kisses, one month is for hugs, one month is for roses, and there’s even a month where everybody eats black noodles. If you’re exceptionally sentimental and want an excuse to celebrate every four weeks, you might lean into South Korea’s take on Valentine’s Day.
3. Booze in Bulgaria
In Bulgaria, they celebrate Valentine’s day with a glass of locally-made wine. That’s actually quite reserved and rather eloquent when you get right down to it. It’s a rather mature celebration.
Wine isn’t really booze, true. And you don’t have to have just one cup. But wine is definitely something which makes lovers more apt to hold one another close, and having an annual excuse for a few celebratory glasses of wine is worth it.
4. Romania Goes “Old School”
First, Romania’s celebration of “Valentine’s Day” is on the 24th of February; it’s ten days later than on the western calendar, and that’s a tangent topic for exploration elsewhere. At any rate, young couples will collect flowers from the forests to present to those they love. The Romanian celebration is equal parts Valentine’s Day and spring celebration.
5. If You’re a Guy and You Like Gifts, Go to Japan
In Japan, women are supposed to buy men gifts on Valentine’s Day, and men are not allowed to reciprocate for a month. That really turns things on its head!
Imagine in America if only women could purchase Valentine’s Day gifts for men. The entire dynamic of the holiday would shift! In Japan, March 14th is when men are allowed to reciprocate, it’s called the “white day”.
Exploring International Valentine’s Day Celebrations
Certainly, there’s nothing that says you absolutely must follow the traditions of foreign lands. That said, there’s a lot to play around with here.
Whether you let the girl get the gifts as the Japanese do, go “old school” and collect flowers from the woods as they do in Romania, have a cup of wine as the Bulgarians do, celebrate monthly like they do in South Korea, or commemorate France’s popular tradition of sending a card, do something this Valentine’s Day. Show you care about your partner.