How do people around the world show their affection for loved ones on Valentine’s Day?

How do people around the world show their affection for loved ones on Valentine’s Day?

Jordan Van Vranken - Staff Writer, Photo courtesy of Google Images

Every year in America, Valentine’s Day is celebrated by lovers giving each other valentines, sweetheart candies, roses and chocolates, while singles celebrate by sitting in bed alone watching Netflix. But how is Valentine’s Day celebrated around the world?

japan heart


In America and in most Western cultures, Valentine’s Day is all about men expressing their affection and love for their women. Japan’s culture reverses the roles. Japanese women are usually considered reserved and shy when it comes to expressing their love, but on Valentine’s Day, the women become upfront about the way they truly feel by presenting the men in their lives with chocolates to express their feelings. The different varieties of chocolates given signify different types of relationships. “Honmei-choko,” which literally translates to “favorite or true feeling chocolate,” is for someone the woman truly loves, such a husband or a boyfriend. For the men in a woman’s life whom she is not romantically involved with, for example a boss or a classmate, a woman will give “giri-choko” which means “obligation chocolate.” Ouch. But it gets even worse. “Cho-giri choko” means “ultra-obligatory” chocolate. It is the cheaper chocolate reserved for people the woman may not even like, but feels obligated to give something to. The next month, on March 15, the men reciprocate their feelings to the women who gave them chocolate on Valentine’s Day on what is known as “White Day.” They give jewelry, clothing and at least twice the amount of chocolate they received.

South Korea Flag

South Korea:

South Korea takes Valentine’s Day to the extreme. In fact, they celebrate year-round, and the 14th day of almost every month is dedicated to an aspect of love. For example, January marks Candle Day, May contains Rose Day, June holds Kiss Day, October celebrates Wine Day and December has Hug Day. On Feb. 14, women give chocolate to men, and on March 14 (also called “White Day”), men give non-chocolate candy to women. The most popular White Day candy is “Chupa Chups,” or flavored lollipops. Anyone who does not receive anything on either day gets together on April 14, or “Black Day”, to celebrate being single and eats “jajangmyeon,” which are noodles covered in Chunjang black bean sauce. Now that is a party.


Denmark Flag heart


Valentine’s Day, or as the Danes call the holiday, “Valentinsdag,” was not very widely celebrated until the 90s. They were inspired by the American custom, and their holiday is celebrated mainly by couples in love and adolescents. Even though the Danes were late to the game, they have managed to come up with their own unique traditions that locals have embraced. On Valentine’s Day, men write “Gaekkebrev,” which are cute and humorous poems or rhyming love notes that they send anonymously. The biggest hint they give about who they are is the number of letters in their name, by using dots to represent each letter. The women who receive the notes will then guess who sent their cards. If she guesses correctly she wins an Easter egg on Easter later that year. If a woman cannot figure out who her secret admirer is, she owes him an egg on Easter instead. People also give each other hearts made of chocolate, cake, flowers and even pasta.

Malaysia Flag heart


Malaysia’s Valentine’s Day is a little different than other countries’ Valentine’s Days… and a little bit fruity. On Malaysia’s day of love, on the seventh day of the seventh month of the lunar calendar every year, women do not get chocolates or poems from their loved ones, or even give them. They give oranges. Women write their phone numbers on oranges and throw them into the closest river, hoping that the man of their dreams might find it. Fruit vendors often collect the oranges, which are considered a lucky fruit, and then sell them at the market, phone numbers included. For the two-thirds of the Malaysian population that happen to be Muslim, the extreme Islam morality police have an anti-Valentine’s Day campaign that dates back to 2005. In 2011, the Islamic police carried out raids of hotel rooms on Valentine’s Day, and more than 80 Muslims were consequently arrested for “khalwat,” or close proximity, which is prohibited in an Islamic law that prevents Muslims from being alone with someone of the opposite sex if they are unmarried.