Days of wine and roses
By Patti Pietschmann, Travel Diva and incurable romantic
You know how to celebrate the most romantic day of the year in the US, right? Of course you do. You ply your lover with chocolates, roses, fancy dinners, sensual pleasures and promises of dreamy getaways. It doesn’t always happen on Feb. 14 in other countries but still celebrates lovers.
Cupid’s corners of the world
The French need little excuse for romance, especially in gay Paree, the city of lights. They celebrate “Saint Valentin” by dining on foie gras and rich tortes while sipping Champagne and fine wines. French display their love with all the typical gifts.
In a Latin heart beat
In most Latin America Valentine’s Day is known as Día de los Enamorados (day of lovers) or as Día del Amor y la Amistad (Day of Love and Friendship). It is also common to see people perform “acts of appreciation” for their friends. In Guatemala, Valentine’s Day is “Día del Cariño” (Affection Day). Some countries such as Dominican Republic and El Salvador have a tradition called Amigo secreto (“Secret friend”), which is a game similar to the Christmas ritual of the Secret Santa.
In Italy Valentine’s Day turns into a Spring Festival celebration. People take to the outdoors. They fill the parks and gardens, and listen to music. Couples also follow a unique tradition of padlocking their love to a bridge or railing, and throwing the key away.
In Verona, Italy, the city of Romeo and Juliet, a four-day Valentine’s celebration takes place with heart lanterns lining the city and free concerts in the Piazza dei Signori. There is also a love-letter writing contest and romantic dinner specials in restaurants around town.
Brazil honors the Dia dos Namorados (lit. “Lovers’ Day”, or “Boyfriends’/Girlfriends’ Day”) on June 12 which is the day before Saint Anthony‘s day (the marriage saint)/ The tradition is that many single women perform popular rituals, called simpatias, in order to find a good husband or boyfriend.
Like in the US, couples exchange gifts, chocolates, cards, and flower bouquets.
In Chinese, the Qixi Festival takes place on the seventh day of the seventh month of the lunar calendar. It commemorates a day on which a legendary cowherder and weaving maid may be together.
Valentine’s Day in Japan allows women only to give chocolates to men. Female office works give the candy co-workers. Unlike western countries, gifts such as greeting cards, candies, flowers, or dinner dates are uncommon, and most of the gifts-related activity is about giving the right amount of chocolate to each person. Japanese chocolate companies make half their annual sales during this time of the year.
In the Philippines version of Valentine’s Day is Araw ng mga Puso. Celebrations resemble those of the West with red roses taking a starring role.
A little less than half of the population in the UK invest in Valentine’s Day gifts of cards, flowers, chocolates.
In Wales, some people celebrate Dydd Santes Dwynwen (St. Dwynwen’s Day) on January 25 instead of (or as well as) Valentine’s Day. The day commemorates St Dwynwen, the Welsh patron saint of love. The Welsh name for Saint Valentine is Sant Ffolant.
The love of the Irish
Finland and Estonia
In Finlandls Valentine’s Day, ystävänpäivä (don’t ask me how to pronounce it) translates into “Friend’s Day”. As the name indicates, this day is more about friendships than lovers.
St. Valentine’s Day, or Ημέρα του Αγίου Βαλεντίνου in Greek tradition was not always associated with romantic love. But in the late 1990’s ] contemporary Greece began celebrating it in Western style.
In Portugal, “Dia dos Namorados” (Lover’s Day / Day of the Enamoured) takes place. It includes the usual gift exchanges. In some regions, women give a lenço de namorados (“lovers’ handkerchief”), which contains elaborate embroidery of love sentiments.
In Denmark and Norway, February 14 is known as Valentinsdag, and it is celebrated in much the same manner as in the United Kingdom. In Sweden it is called Alla hjärtans dag (“All Hearts’ Day”) and is not widely celebrated. A 2016 survey revealed that less than 50% of men and women were planning to buy presents for their partners. The holiday has only been observed since the 1960s.
In Spain, Valentine’s Day, “San Valentín” follows the usual traditions of the rest of the West.