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Features

Valentine's Day Traditions Around the World

Wednesday 14/February/2018 - 10:17 AM
Sada El Balad
Edited By: Nada Moustafa
Egypt

In Cairo، the frenzy for the modern Valentine’s Day starts at least a week ahead of Feb. 14.
Florists raise their prices to extortionate levels، with the cost of a bouquet starting at $17 up to $55. And unlike the rest of the year، there is no room to haggle because demand is so high.

“February is the most profitable month of the year for me thanks to Valentine’s Day،” Sherif، a florist in the upscale Zamalek neighborhood، told Arab News. “But I don’t just like it because of the business. I think that it is nice that there is a day that celebrates love، and it makes me happy to see so many people in my shop buying my flowers to give to the ones they love.”

Hotel restaurant reservations also fill up quickly and offer special Valentine’s menus that — while delicious — cost much more than during the rest of the year.

America

Americans celebrate Valentine’s Day each year on February 14. Images of hearts are everywhere، as are red roses and boxes of chocolates to give to that special person. You could say that “love is in the air.”

Many other countries celebrate Valentine’s Day، too، each in their own way. Here is a look at four countries’ Valentine’s Day traditions.

Japan

For Japanese people، Valentine’s Day is all about chocolate! On February 14، women in Japan give out two kinds of chocolate. One is called Giri-choco. The other is Honmei-choco.

Giri-choco is not very costly. Women give these chocolates to friends and male coworkers. And in schools، female students prepare bags of Giri-choco on February 14 to pass out to friends.

Women make homemade Honmei-choco to give to someone special. They may offer Honmei as a way to express their love to that person.

One month after Valentine’s Day، Japan celebrates White Day on March 14. Men who received chocolates on February 14 return the favor with white-colored treats for women. Japan celebrated the first White Day in 1978. Candy manufacturers pushed the creation of the holiday as a way to sell more of their sweets.

Several other Asian countries also celebrate White Day، including Vietnam and South Korea.

Denmark

Valentine’s Day is a new holiday in Denmark. Young people in the country began celebrating it in the early 1990s.

While Americans give red roses، young Danes celebrate Valentine’s Day with white flowers called “snowdrops.” They give the flowers to both friends and lovers.

One of the biggest Danish Valentine’s Day traditions is the exchange of a lover’s card. In the past، these cards showed a photograph of the card-giver offering a gift to their lover. Today، though، any kind of card exchanged on Valentine’s Day is called a lover’s card.

Also on February 14، Danish men often give women something called a “gaekkebrev.” In English، this translates to a “joke letter.” They are often written as a poem on specially created cut paper. But the writer does not sign the letter using his name. Instead، he uses dots – one for each letter in his name. According to tradition، if the woman correctly guesses who sent her the joke letter، she gets an Easter egg that same year.

Brazil

In Brazil، the country’s huge Carnival celebration overshadows Valentine’s Day. So Brazilians mark a similar day later in the year، on June 12. The holiday is called Dia dos Namorados، or Lovers’ Day. Brazilians celebrate with gifts of cards، flowers and chocolates، in the same way as Americans. But instead of celebrating Saint Valentine، they celebrate Saint Anthony.

The following day، June 13، is Saint Anthony’s Day. The Portuguese Catholic priest was known for helping couples in their relationships. For that reason، Saint Anthony is considered the marriage and matchmaking saint.

Philippines

The Philippines celebrates Valentine’s Day in a big way – with large group weddings. In fact، in recent years، February 14 has become one of the most common wedding anniversaries in the country.

Hundreds، or even thousands، of Filipino couples gather in one place to say “I do” during a public ceremony. Local government officials may lead the mass weddings. The ceremonies are often free، and include flowers، a wedding cake and sometimes even wedding rings.

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