Who doesn’t love Valentine’s Day? You get to send that special someone a card, a dozen roses and a teddy bear without anyone accusing you of being a stalker. Heck, it’s a bit like the romantic equivalent of hitting the jackpot at an online casino. But, as it so happens, there are more than a few different ways to approach Valentine’s Day around the world. Yes, not every country finds prickly, blood drawing red flowers charming, and not everyone embraces the spirit of romantic commercialism with the fervour that the British and New Zealanders do.
Here are a few the weirder Valentine’s Day traditions from around the world. And before you ask; yes, they’re real.
Valentine’s traditions in South Africa are pretty normal, with all the expected flowers, chocolates, cards and other cute things. But for one exception. Young ladies will often pin the name of their hoped-for suitor on their sleeve. Sometimes, the guys will do the same. Does it directly relate to the phrase “wearing your heart on your sleeve?” No, not intentionally, instead it stems from the tradition of the ancient Roman festival of Lupercalia.
In Brazil, Dia dos Namorados, or Lovers Day is the equivalent of Valentine’s Day. Many young ladies will perform magical rituals, known as simpatias, in order help find a true love. One such ritual involves writing the names of potential love interests on scrolls of paper, submerging the papers in a bowl of water, and leaving the bowl under a bed until morning.
In the morning, the scroll that has unravelled the most to reveal a name is that lady’s supposed true love. We prefer conversing with potential love interests, but bowls of water do have their unquestionable inherent magical powers.
In Wales, it was long the tradition to take a piece of wood and dedicate enormous amounts of effort to carve that piece of wood into a spoon. The spoons with the most intricate, elaborate designs were most favoured, with some designs defying what a modern person could hope to achieve in their wildest dreams. The spoon was, of course, given as a gift to a love interest.
The amount of effort required is probably why, today, lazy modern men simply buy really nice spoons for their beloved, instead of whittling away at them for a year!
A game called Gaekkebrev is the order of the day in Denmark. Love interests write one another poems, rhymes, or cute notes, but don’t reveal their name. Instead, the letter is signed with a series of dots, with each dot representing a letter in the givers name. If the receiver guesses the name correctly, the sender must buy them an egg on Easter Sunday. If the receiver does not guess correctly, a reverse egg buying situation occurs. Clearly, egg salesmen in Denmark have it really good.
If you thought selling eggs in Denmark was the road to riches, you haven’t heard about the rose situation in Taiwan. Guys send ladies the number of roses that relate to their intention. 1 rose means love, 11 means the lady is a favourite, 99 means the love is forever, and 108 roses means a marriage proposal.
Question; do the most popular ladies in Taiwan spend a significant portion of their lives counting roses? We believe so.
South Koreans don’t beat around the bush. If you didn’t get any interest on Valentine’s Day, don’t worry, there is always Black Day, April 14th. On this day, the losers who received no attention on Valentines’ Day get to sit around, be lonely with one another and eat black noodles. Black noodles are referred to as jajangmyeon.
This is perhaps the most depressing thing we’ve ever heard. We’re wondering how black noodles are made, and if they’re made specifically for this purpose alone. Yikes.
You know what is one hot, saucy little animal? If you guessed the pig, you’d be correct. In Germany, pigs are a national sign of love and lust, and so feature on many Valentine’s Day cards and gifts. Most adorable of all is that the pigs are often depicted adopting sexy poses, in the cutest of fashion possible.
Sending actual live pigs isn’t a thing though, or the German pig salesmen would certainly have topped even the Taiwanese rose salesmen.