February 14th, Valentine’s Day – you either love it or you hate it! It’s a day anticipated by many loved up couples and dreaded by numerous singletons. Even a few loved up couples refuse to participate in the celebration of Valentine’s Day, viewing it as a huge commercial sham because prices are hiked up and people almost feel pressured into buying something or joining in on the fun. So how are you going to celebrate this Valentine’s Day?
In olden days, European countries used to have their own Valentine’s Day customs. For example, Valentine’s Day in Italy was seen as a Spring festival and was held in open air where people would gather under the shade of trees or in beautiful gardens. There they would listen to music and read out poetry. Just the imagery of it all is totally enchanting and we’d very much prefer to participate in the sophistication of the old Italian Valentine’s Day custom but it hasn’t been celebrated in this way for centuries.
In Scotland the custom was similar – Valentine’s Day was also celebrated with a type of festival, where an equal number of single males and females were in attendance. Both men and women wrote their names on a piece of paper and placed it into a hat (one for the ladies and another for the men). The females then picked a name from the hat containing the men names and wore the piece of paper with the name of their partner over their hearts. This reminds us a little of the sorting hat situation in Harry Potter but it’s a nice idea considering no one is left out!
However, over time western civilisation has closed in on these individual European celebrations, overtaking Valentine’s Day with commercialisation and seeing it as an opportunity to make money instead of celebrating love. Across the West, Valentine’s has lost its individuality and is celebrated in most countries in exactly the same way. Western couples commemorate February the 14th by exchanging gifts (typically chocolate or flowers) and cards. They may also choose to do something bigger such as, making a nice meal for each other or even going on a short break together. Many times, you may catch a male carrying a HUGE teddy bear for his other half that has ‘I love you’ written all over its chest and nothing says ‘over the top’ as much as this. And that’s exactly what Valentine’s is nowadays – just simply over the top.
On the other hand, Valentine’s Day in the East, more specifically Japan, China and Korea, still have their own separate traditions from the West. In fact, the tradition originated in Japan but soon spread to China and Korea. Valentine’s is celebrated on two different days. On the 14th February a female will give a gift to a male and a month later, on the 14th March the male returns the gesture by giving the female a gift back. This day is called ‘White day’ and Japanese females in particular are lucky enough to pick out their own gift! Reciprocity is a hugely important attribute in Asian cultures, particularly in China so it is no wonder that the Japanese custom was a success there too.
So what are your favourite traditions? What are you planning to do for this year’s Valentine’s? We’d love to go back in time to Italy where we’d be basking in the shade of a tree from the Mediterranean winter sun, listening to music and reading poetry but no such time machine has been invented (yet!) so we’re just going to have to wait and have a laugh at our fake speed dating event instead… everyone welcome! Let’s share the LOVE this Friday! If you haven´t done it yet, join our event and come along to our “Fake Speed Dating”!!