This is how I feel about Valentine’s Day:
I just wanna cruise on by and avoid all of the uber cliché ‘Happy Valentine’s Day cards, teddy bears, chocolates, overpriced meals, or heart-shaped-anythings that somehow have come to define Valentine’s Day.
Because you know what? There HAS to be other ways to celebrate love and romance than with cliché professions of love. Also, why does it only have to be done once a year? Isn’t love a good thing and shouldn’t it be celebrated how and when you want?!
Like Minnie and Mickey below!
So, if you’re like me and you’re tired of the cliché, it’s a good time to find inspiration away from your local storefront window. One of the reasons I love traveling so much is that I love to be inspired by other cultures.
Currently in Colombia, I decided to research how Colombians celebrate Valentine’s Day for fresh ideas. This prompted me to uncover how other countries celebrate love and romance.
Check out what I found out below:
Valentine’s: World Edition
In Colombia and most other Latin countries, Valentine’s Day is known as “Dia de Amor y Amistad” (Love and Friendship Day). Colombians celebrate with either a group of friends or with a loved one. This means you don’t have to be in a relationship to celebrate Love and Friendship Day. Everyone is included in Colombia!
The Danes celebrate love on “Valentinsdag” with a quirky tradition. Men will send an anonymous poem or love note to women, otherwise known as “Gaekkebrev,” signing it with only the exact number of letters in the sender’s name. The lucky recipient must then guess who sent her the card. If she guesses correctly, she wins an Easter egg on Easter later that year and if she’s stumped as to whom her secret admirer was, she owes him an Easter egg. Cheers to being creative and mysterious at the same time!
Here, Valentine’s Day is more a celebration of friendship rather than a romantic love fest (a bit similar to Colombia!) Estonians exchange cards and gifts with friends on “Sõbrapäev,” which literally translates to “Friend’s Day.” If you are with a significant other, it is however, a popular day to tie the knot or get engaged.
Women in South Africa will wear their hearts on their sleeves, literally. Women celebrate the occasion by pinning their sweetheart’s name on their sleeves for the world to see. Talk about being bold! This custom is following the age-old Roman tradition called “Lupercalia.” In some places, men follow suit, but it is not as common.
A popular Valentine’s tradition in France was called “une loterie d’amour,” which translates to “drawing for love.” Men and women would fill houses that faced one another, and then take turns calling out to one another and pairing off. Men who weren’t satisfied with their match could simply leave a woman for another, and the women left unmatched gathered afterward for a bonfire.
As part of the tradition, the women would then toss pictures and objects of the men who rejected them, while swearing and sending curses at the opposite sex. The French government banned this “drawing for love” tradition because of how rowdy and uncontrollable the whole event usually got.
Japanese women will give men chocolates on Valentine’s Day to show their affections. The twist is the TYPE of chocolate that is given. Women give “giri choko” (obligation chocolate) to co-workers and classmates or “honmei choko” (true feeling chocolate) to their object of affection. Who knew a single piece of chocolate can mean “hi friend” OR “hey hot stuff”?!
So, this Valentine’s, whether you want to send a cryptic poem, pin your sweetheart’s name on your sleeve, or hangout with your besties, the point is get inspired, get creative! Or even better, if you want to create your own traditions to celebrate love and romance, go for it!
Break the cliché this Valentine’s Day.