Friday, February 12, 2010

Valentine's Day around the World

Sunday, Sisters and Brothers, is Valentine's Day here in the USA.  In terms of the focus, while mass marketing would have you believe this is a day that men are supposed to go out of their way to court or remind women that they love them, a closer examination of what you can buy from gifts to cards reveals it is a holiday for everyone.  Children give each other cards in school, women give gifts to men, couples make plans, and even singles might band together to celebrate or comfort each other.

This got your Chocolate Priestess wondering about Valentine's Day and how it is celebrated around the world.  I used a few websites to gather some knowledge as well and as things I picked up from pop.  A list of website is at the bottom of this post.

I know that in Japan, Valentine's Day is when women give gifts to men while White Day one month later is when men return, sometimes threefold gifts to women.  On Valentine's Day, a homemade gift for one's lover/partner, called "hon-mei" is valued more than a store bought ones you give to friends and co-workers called "giri-choco" and yet the stores sell out annually.  Generally this is a holiday for young adults it seems.

Canada's traditions seem identical to the USA as far as I can tell.

In Australia, surveys reveal that the extravagant traditions of the 19th and early 20th centuries have given way to mostly cards and flowers with men doing most of the gift giving.  Other surveys in that country suggest that men are more likely to be romantic in their gestures and words than women.

Britain has a long tradition of Valentine's Day and one unique part of it is the children's songs that earn them treats.  That sort of reminds me of Halloween in a way.  Apparently poetry is still quite popular as well though store bought cards, chocolates and gifts are gaining ground.

Folklore reports that Valentine's Day cards originated in France.  There lovers exchange cards, flowers and gifts but I didn't find a mention of chocolate for this holiday.

In Italy there is a long tradition of couples announcing their engagements on Valentine's Day.  Celebrations as we have in the USA are widely seen as an import but it is still celebrated with dinners out, cards, and a variety of gifts including chocolates as I can attest from my year living in Rome.

Valentine's Day is also an import to India but stores go all out to encouraged consumers to buy gifts.  It has also become a time for younger people to propose marriage though I think we need to be wary of such information given traditions about marriage in India where the family is likely far more involved than most Americans would be comfortable with.

In Denmark young adults observe three traditions on February 14th.  Giving cards, giving white flowers called "snowdrops" and giving  "gaekkebrev"
or love poems where the sender is not listed; if the woman or girl who receives it, guesses correctly, she'll get another gift later in the year from the same man/boy.

In Scotland, the celebrations are done in more modest fashion with small gathering and often anonymous cards.  Apparently during these small parties there are some traditional games that are played as well and it is not unusual for marriages to result from pairings at these events.

Finally I found information about South Africa but I couldn't determine if this was for everyone in the country or only certain groups.  Given the strict history of segregation, I wouldn't be surprised if there are racial and ethnic differences so please give me more information, Sisters and Brothers.  Apparently Valentine's Day isn't so much of a day event as a holiday that turns into romantic vacations at least on the beaches of the country.

If you have more knowledge about Valentine's Day around World, please leave a comment and let us all know.  Or tell me how you plan to celebrate. Tomorrow is our last Valentine's Day Sacrament for 2010 so be sure to stop in and look it over.

Sisters and Brothers, may you too take the time to slowly appreciate what the Divine and human ingenuity have offered you in chocolate.

St. Valentine's Day


Emilie said...

A little late for Valentine's Day: in some parts of the Middle East, American customs are spreading, especially the giving of flowers. In other areas, like Iran, Valentine's Day is enjoyed by the young, but denounced by their elders as a decadent, indecent holiday. Some things are the same all over the world, no?

TheChocolatePriestess said...

Thanks, Emilie.

When I look back in history, it is the same thing over and over again -- the elders denounce something the young are doing. If we can tie that to a political or religious agenda that gets us more power it's even better.

I hope you had a great Valentine's Day.

We look forward to your answers for the Everyday Chocolatiers feature we're running here on The Chocolate Cult. I hope to have an interview every other month.

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