Valentine's Day Around the World
In Western societies, Valentine’s day is the day where lovers are celebrated and exchange gifts to one another. Usually associated with red and pink hearts, chocolates, and flowers, this holiday is the most romantic of the yearly line up. However, in other countries this holiday is celebrated in vastly different ways, often on different days with traditional motifs not common to those in the United states. Prime examples of these cultural shifts in celebration can be shown through the interpretations from South Korea, Taiwan, and Wales.
In South Korea, women present men with gifts and chocolates on Valentine’s day. In return, women receive gifts from the men on “White Day,” March 14, if the feelings were reciprocated. This tradition was adapted from the Japanese, but South Korea took it a step further by associating every 14th day of a month as a day with some sort of “love” related topic.
Similarly, in Taiwan they celebrate Valentine’s day and “White Day,” but the roles are reversed. Men give gifts to women on Valentine’s day and eagerly await March 14 to see if the feelings are mutual.
The most interesting interpretation of this holiday is from Wales. A customary gift men give their partners is a “love spoon,” a hand carved and ornate spoon made of wood. These spoons often have symbols intertwined within the designs. This is an age old tradition that originated with the Welsh sailors, and was used to court and propose to the women they fancied.
So this Valentine’s day, people may want to try switching things up and giving their significant other a spoonful of love, or even wait until next month to give them a gift.