Alternative Valentine’s Day Ideas
If you’re struggling to think of what to do with your loved one for Valentine’s Day, and don’t fancy picking up a meal deal, why not try something different by doing a tradition from another country?
France- originated the Valentine’s Day card
With the reputation as the one of the most romantic countries, it’s no wonder that France has long celebrated Valentine’s Day.
It’s been said that the first Valentine’s Day card originated in France when Charles, Duke of Orleans, sent love letters to his wife.
Valentine’s Day cards have since become a popular tradition in France and around the world.
Another French tradition is ‘drawing for love’.
Men and women would fill houses that faced opposite each other, and then take turns pairing off.
If a man wasn’t satisfied with his match, he could leave one woman for another, and then the unmatched women would gather around a bonfire.
During the bonfire, the women burned pictures of the men and then would insult and swear at them; this went on until the event became so uncontrollable that the French government banned it in the 1700s.
Germany- get your loved on a pig
Valentine’s Day is popular in Germany, where couples will exchange chocolates, flowers, and heart shaped gifts.
But couples will also give each other a pig!
The pig represents luck and lust, and can be given in picture form, as a miniature statue, in chocolate, or however one sees fit- most couples don’t buy an actual pig.
Germans also traditionally prepare big ginger cookies in heart shapes which contain romantic phrases and messages.
Japan- where the women give the gifts!
In Japan, it is tradition for women to give gifts to men on Valentine’s Day.
Usually, this gift will be chocolate or confectionery, but this isn’t limited to romantic partners; women also give gifts to friends, colleagues, and it’s also normal to buy presents for themselves.
Japan also has ‘White Day’- which falls on the 14th March, exactly a month after Valentine’s Day.
This is when it is the men’s turn to buy the gifts, and it’s tradition for them to spend three times to amount on their partner.
Unlike on Valentine’s Day, men aren’t expected to only give chocolates, they buy any type of gift.
Denmark- giving flowers instead of gifts
The Danish haven’t been celebrating Valentine’s Day for long, only since the early 1990s.
But the country has embraced the holiday with its’ own twist- instead of giving roses, friends and partners exchange pressed snowdrops in a card.
As well as the white flowers, men also give women a ‘joking letter’, with a funny poem or rhyme written on intricately cut papers and signed only by anonymous dots.
If the woman can identify the sender, she earns herself an Easter egg later that year.
China- equivalent of Valentine’s Day is in August
China’s version of Valentine’s Day is Qixi, or the Seventh Night Festival, which falls on the seventh day of the seventh lunar month each year.
During Qixi, young women prepare offerings of melon and other fruits in hopes of finding a good husband.
Couples also head to temples to pray for happiness and prosperity.
Brazil- celebrate with a carnival
Brazilians celebrate Valentine’s Day in June, with Dia dos Namorados, or Lovers’ Day.
In addition to the usual exchanges of chocolates, flowers, and cards, there are music festivals and performances held throughout the country.
Gift giving isn’t limited to couples either.
In Brazil, people celebrate this day of love by exchanging gifts and sharing dinner with friends and relatives too.
The following day is Saint Anthony’s Day, which honors the patron saint of marriage, and on this day women traditionally performed rituals in hopes that Saint Anthony would bring them a husband.
South Africa- women wear their heart on their sleeve
Like many other countries, South Africa celebrates Valentine’s Day with festivals, flowers, and other tokens of love.
It is also customary for women in South Africa to wear their hearts on their sleeves- literally.
Women pin the names of their love interest on their shirtsleeves, known as Lupercalia, and in some cases this is how men find out about their secret admirers.
Argentina- Valentine’s lasts a week
In Argentina, they celebrate Valentine’s week, known as ‘Sweetness Week’, and it falls in July.
Originally set up by a confectionary marketing campaign, it is when kisses are exchanged for sweet treats, but it quickly caught on and became a tradition.
Estonia- friendship love is celebrated
Friendship, rather than romantic love is celebrated on the 14th February- perfect if you’re single for Valentine’s Day.
Presents are given between friends and family members, so singletons aren’t left out.
There is still romance- shops, restaurants, and streets are decorated with hearts and other symbols of love.
In some towns, single people get to ride the special ‘love bus’ where they can meet others looking for love.