Traditions and prohibitions of Valentine’s Day around the world

Sick and tired of American Valentine’s Day traditions? Not to worry, there are plenty of unique ways people choose to pay homage to Saint Valentine.

Here’s 5 unique customs celebrated around the globe that take the holiday beyond a simple gift exchange:

Advertisement for the March 14th tradition of “White Day” celebrated in several Asian countries.
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Japan turns the gender norm on its head as women are the ones to gift their significant other with something on Feb. 14. A customary gift is one of two kinds of handmade chocolates, one which translates to “obligation chocolate” that is usually given to a friend, co-worker or close friend with no romantic involvement while the other is intended to be given in true love. Better hope you don’t get a recipe mixed up!
Here’s where it get’s interesting… exactly one month later on March 14, White Day is celebrated. This day is intended for men to give gifts in return and was created by the candy industry in order to boost sales of marshmallows which were quickly replaced by the more favorable white chocolate. White Day is a Japanese invention, but it has spread to some other Asian countries, including South Korea and China.

Welsh traditional “love spoons”
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Wales casts aside other traditions completely as they observe their love holiday on January 25 and don’t celebrate Saint Valentine, but instead Saint Dwynwen, the Welsh patron saint of lovers. Welsh people also do not exchange simple gifts, instead they practice the exchange of wooden “love spoons“. This tradition dates back to the 17th century when men were known for hand carving intricate designs onto a spoon with different designs symbolizing things such as luck and support.

Brazil celebrates in a whole new way, on a different day, June 12 because Feb. 14 is in close proximity to carnival celebrations. Valentine’s Day, known as “Dia dos Nomorados” in Brazil is a time for single women to perform rituals in order to find a boyfriend or husband. In some areas of the country a tradition known as the “trunk test” is kept alive. This test involves men running nearly four miles carrying the trunk of a barauna tree on their back with the winner earning the right to dance with whoever he loves.

Pakistan might be the place for those who wish Valentine’s Day didn’t exist. This year it really doesn’t.

Pakistani men stand in protest the traditions of Valentine’s Day in the capital city of Karachi on Sunday, Feb. 12.
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According to CNN, an order was issued Monday, Feb. 13 by the High Court in Pakistan’s capital prohibiting the sale of associated merchandise, banning advertisements in online and print media and states that the day cannot be celebrated in “any public space or government building.”The order started with a petition submitted by a citizen claiming that promotions of Valentine’s Day were “against the teachings of Islam” and many believe it to be praising Western traditions.

South Africa takes the phrase, “wear you heart on your sleeve” to a new level as women literally pin the name of their crush or significant other to their shirt sleeve. This is the continuance of an ancient Roman tradition known as, “lupercalia“. In some cases, this is how a man would find out who his secret admirer is by looking at the heart on a woman’s sleeve.

From romantic countries such as France to those who ban it entirely like Pakistan- there is an infinite range of traditions and customs to choose from. Many students of WCU have their own plans for the day whether they find themselves single or in a relationship.

Sylva Walmart placed lingerie alongside the other Valentine’s Day merchandise, shedding light on where American expectations and values lie.
Photo taken by Ashley Kairis

“I celebrate Valentine’s Day by eating chocolate and drinking a glass of wine with my dog,” said junior, Maggie Bowen.

While some students view Valentine’s Day as a true meaning for celebration, others look at it in a different light with the opinion that it is an economy-driven holiday.

“There’s no real emotional values behind it, it’s just to sell Hallmark cards, boxes of chocolate and flowers”, said sophomore Nathan McDaniel.

Valentine’s Day is an ever-changing, diversified holiday that goes by many different names. There are many varying opinions, but regardless of your stance, there is one reason many college students cannot wait for it to be over – the discounted chocolates and candies that will soon jump off of the shelves.