In the United States, Valentine’s Day is usually celebrated with cards, gifts, candies, flowers and jewelry. It is a very busy time for restaurants as couples frequently go out to celebrate. These customs are shared by many other countries around the world where men and women exchange presents as signs of their affection. However, there are some celebrations of Valentine’s Day in other parts of the world that are quite unique.
One popular gift in Italy, besides the more typical Valentine’s Day presents, is called Baci Perugina. This is a confection usually made of hazelnuts covered in chocolate. A romantic note, quote, or love poem is written on a small card inside the Baci Perugina. In Britain, a special indulgence for the holiday is a Valentine Bun, a treat baked with caraway seeds and raisins or plums.
There are a couple of distinctive customs in Denmark for the occasion. While flowers are very popular, as they are elsewhere in the world, it is specifically white flowers that are preferred in Denmark. These are called “Snowdrops,” and are often exchanged between men and women much like Valentine cards. Another way of celebrating in Denmark is a note called a “gaekkebrev.” These are fun love poems send by secret admirers to women that are not signed, but rather coded with a dot for each letter of the man’s name. If the woman can guess her admirer, she receives a special Easter egg later in the spring.
In countries such as Japan and South Korea, there are two separate holidays for Valentine’s Day. The first occurs on February 14th, where women send gifts, usually chocolates, to men close to them. These are given not just to loves, but also to friends and even coworkers. Then on March 14th, there is another holiday called “White Day,” when the men return the favor, giving candies to the women who sent them treats in the previous month. The day is called White Day because the gift was originally a marshmallow-based candy when it began.
The country that has perhaps the most unique celebrations associated with Valentine’s Day is China. This occurs at a different time of the year – the seventh day of the seventh month of the Chinese calendar (August 6th for 2011), and is such called “Seventh Eve” (also known as “Seven Sisters’ Festival” or “Daughter’s Festival”). On this occasion, the exchange of gifts, candies and flowers is less common. Instead, it is a chance for young women with skills in crafts such as weaving or melon carving to display their abilities. They will also make wishes or prayers for a husband. The holiday, despite its many differences in customs and time of the year, is called “Chinese Valentine’s Day.”