I went to wikipedia a little while ago to read up on the impending Valentine’s day… I found some interesting stuff about the origins of the matyred saints and such, but I was amused by the days that other places celebrated in the same vein.
I’ve copied and pasted most of it here.
Similar days honoring love
In the West
While sending cards, flowers, chocolates and other gifts is traditional in the UK, Valentine’s Day has various regional customs. In Norfolk
, a character called ‘Jack’ Valentine knocks on the rear door of houses leaving sweets and presents for children. Although he was leaving treats, many children were scared of this mystical person. In Wales, many people celebrate Dydd Santes Dwynwen
(St Dwynwen’s Day
) on January 25 instead of or as well as St Valentine’s Day. The day commemorates St Dwynwen
, the patron saint of Welsh lovers. In France
, a traditionally Catholic
country, Valentine’s Day is known simply as “Saint Valentin
“, and is celebrated in much the same way as other western countries. In Spain
Valentine’s Day is known as “San Valentín
” and is celebrated the same way as in the U.K, although in Catalonia it is largely superseded by similar festivities of rose and/or book giving on La Diada de Sant Jordi
(Saint George’s Day). In Portugal
it’s more commonly referred to as “Dia dos Namorados” (Boy/Girlfriend’s Day).
, Valentine’s Day (14 Feb) is known as Valentinsdag
. It is not celebrated to a large extent, but many people take time to eat a romantic dinner with their partner, to send a card to a secret love or give a red rose to their loved one. In Sweden
it is called Alla hjärtans dag
(“All Hearts’ Day”) and was launched in the 1960s by the flower industry’s commercial interests, and due to the influence of American culture. It is not an official holiday, but its celebration is recognized and sales of cosmetics and flowers for this holiday are only exceeded by those for Mother’s Day.
Valentine’s Day is called Ystävänpäivä
which translates into “Friend’s day”. As the name indicates, this day is more about remembering all your friends, not only your loved ones. In Estonia
Valentine’s Day is called Sõbrapäev
, which has the same meaning.
, a proverb says that “St Valentine brings the keys of roots,” so on February 14, plants and flowers start to grow. Valentine’s Day has been celebrated as the day when the first work in the vineyards and in the fields commences. It is also said that birds propose to each other or marry on that day. Nevertheless, it has only recently been celebrated as the day of love. The day of love is traditionally March 12, theSaint Gregory
‘s day. Another proverb says “Valentin – prvi spomladin”
(“Valentine — first saint of spring”), as in some places (especially White Carniola
) Saint Valentine marks the beginning of spring.
, the traditional holiday for lovers is Dragobete
, which is celebrated on February 24. It is named after a character from Romanian folklore who was supposed to be the son of Baba Dochia
. Part of his name is the word drag
(“dear”), which can also be found in the word dragoste
(“love”). In recent years, Romania has also started celebrating Valentine’s Day, despite already having Dragobete as a traditional holiday. This has drawn backlash from many groups, reputable persons and institutions
but also nationalist organizations like Noua Dreaptǎ
, who condemn Valentine’s Day for being superficial, commercialist and imported Western kitsch
Valentine’s Day is called Sevgililer Günü
, which translates into “Sweethearts’ Day”.
According to Jewish tradition the 15th day of the month of Av – Tu B’Av
(usually late August) is the festival of love. In ancient times girls would wear white dresses and dance in the vineyards, where the boys would be waiting for them (Mishna
Taanith end of Chapter 4). In modern Israeli culture this is a popular day to pronounce love, propose marriage and give gifts like cards or flowers.
Mexico,Central and South America
and in El Salvador
, Valentine’s Day is known as “Día del Amor y la Amistad” (Day of Love and Friendship). Although it is similar to the United States’ version in many ways, it is also common to see people do “acts of appreciation” for their friends.
, the Dia dos Namorados
(lit. “Day of the Enamored”, or “Boyfriends’/Girlfriends’ Day”) is celebrated on June 12, when couples exchange gifts, chocolates, cards and flower bouquets. This day was chosen probably because it is the day before the Festa junina
’s Saint Anthony’s
day, known there as the marriage saint
, when traditionally many single women perform popular rituals, called simpatias
, in order to find a good husband or boyfriend. The February 14’s Valentine’s Day is not celebrated at all, mainly for cultural
reasons, since it usually falls too little before or after Carnival
, a major floating holiday in Brazil — long regarded as a holiday of sex
by many in the country
— that can fall anywhere from early February to early March.
, in 2009, President Hugo Chavez
said in a meeting to his supporters for the upcoming referendum vote on February 15, that “since on the 14th, there will be no time of doing nothing, nothing or next to nothing … maybe a little kiss or something very superficial”, he recommended people to celebrate a week of love after the referendum vote.
In most of South America
the Día del amor y la amistad
(lit. “Love and Friendship Day”) and the Amigo secreto
(“Secret friend”) are quite popular and usually celebrated together on the 14 of February (one exception is Colombia
, where it is celebrated every third Saturday of September). The latter consists of randomly assigning to each participant a recipient who is to be given an anonymous gift (similar to the Christmas tradition of Secret Santa
Thanks to a concentrated marketing effort, Valentine’s Day is celebrated in some Asian countries with Singaporeans
and South Koreans
spending the most money on Valentine’s gifts.
, in 1960, Morinaga
, one of the biggest Japanese confectionery
companies, originated the present custom that only women give chocolates to men. In particular, office ladies
give chocolate to their co-workers. One month later, on March 14, White Day
was created by the Japanese National Confectionery Industry Association as a “reply day”, where men are expected to return the favour to those who gave them chocolates on Valentine’s Day. Unlike western countries, gifts such as candies, flowers
, or dinner dates
are uncommon. Many women feel obliged to give chocolates to all male co-workers, except when the 14th falls on a Sunday, a holiday. This is known as giri-choko
(義理チョコ), from giri
, (“chocolate”), with unpopular co-workers receiving only “ultra-obligatory” chō-giri choko
cheap chocolate. This contrasts with honmei-choko
(本命チョコ, Favorite chocolate); chocolate given to a loved one. Friends, especially girls, may exchange chocolate referred to as tomo-choko
(友チョコ); from tomo
In South Korea
, women give chocolate to men on February 14, and men give non-chocolate candy to women on March 14 (White Day). On April 14 (Black Day), those who did not receive anything on the 14th of Feb or March go to a Chinese restaurant to eat black noodles (자장면 jajangmyeon
) and “mourn” their single life. Koreans also celebrate Pepero Day
on November 11, when young couples give each other Pepero cookies. The date ’11/11′ is intended to resemble the long shape of the cookie. The 14th of every month marks a love-related day in Korea, although most of them are obscure. From January to December: Candle Day, Valentine’s Day, White Day, Black Day
, Rose Day, Kiss Day, Silver Day, Green Day, Music Day, Wine Day, Movie Day, and Hug Day.
In the Philippines
, Valentine’s Day is called “Araw ng mga Puso” or “Hearts Day”. It is usually marked by a steep increase in the prices of flowers.
Similar Asian traditions
In Japan, a slightly different version of 七夕 called Tanabata
is celebrated, on July 7 (Gregorian calendar
. The celebration is not related to St. Valentine’s Day.
, the Sepandarmazgan
, or Esfandegan, is an age-old traditional celebration of love, friendship and Earth. It has been progressively forgotten in favour of the Western celebration of Valentine’s Day. The Association of Iran’s Cultural and Natural Phenomena has been trying since 2006 to make Sepandarmazgan a national holiday on 17 February, in order to replace the Western holiday.
Conflict with religious fundamentalists
, in past Valentine’s Day has been explicitly discouraged by some of the Hindu fundamentalists, mainly the Shiv Sena
, the Bajrang Dal
and the Vishva Hindu Parishad
Since 2001 there has been each year violent clashes between shopkeepers dealing in Valentine related items and Shiv Sena die-hards, who oppose it as “cultural pollution from the west”.
Especially in Mumbai
and surrounding areas Bal Thackeray
and others sent out signals before the day warning people not to have anything to do with Valentine.
Those who violate this are dealt with harshly by baton
-holding brigands of Shiv Sena who lurk in public places especially parks, chasing young people holding hands and others suspected to be lovers. In many parts of south India couples who are found in parks and other public places are immediately forced to marry on the spot by the Shiv Sena and other similar activists.
The Middle East
political party has called for the banning of the holiday, and has called it “a shameful day. The people in the West are just fulfilling and satisfying their sex thirst.” They claim that the holiday is an insult to Islam.
Despite this, the celebration is increasingly popular
and the florist shops expect to sell great amount of flowers, specially red roses.