Valentine’s Day traditions from around the world

Close up shot of female hands holding gifts wrapped with white ribbon and bouquet of red roses. Time for gifts. Shallow depth of field with focus on gifts.Outdoors shot, Horizontal
South Korea Valentine’s Day on Feb. 14 is celebrated Sadie Hawkins-style in South Korea. Women give gifts to their boyfriends, crushes, husbands or secret admirers. That doesn’t sound too different from the gift-giving that goes on in the United States. But this February celebration is followed by a White Day on March 14, when the men are expected to shower gifts on their loved ones in return. But it doesn’t end there … Source: Smithsonian Magazine (Thinkstock) (Getty Images/iStockphoto/mirelabella)
Korean / Chinese pork and vegetable noodles in black bean sauce served with danmuji and kimchi.
South Korea On April 14, sad, single South Koreans celebrate Black Day, where those who didn’t receive anything on either Valentine’s Day or White Day gather together and eat a popular dish called “jjajangmyeon.” The sauce is made of black beans, giving it the inky black color that, apparently, fits the mood of the singles who flock to indulge on this comfort food. South Koreans living abroad often forego waiting until April, choosing to eat “jjajangmyeon” if they find themselves single on Valentine’s Day. Source: Smithsonian Magazine (Thinkstock) (Getty Images/iStockphoto/Paul_Brighton)
Heart hole spoon on the wooden pastry board - baking background
Wales As early as the seventeenth century, young Welsh men carved spoons from a piece of wood and decorated them to woo their lady loves. A man would give a “love spoon” to a woman to indicate that he wished to court her. Some young ladies who received a number of spoons from different suitors would display them in their homes — a testament to her popularity, similar to the number of “likes” a girl might get on Twitter. These love spoons weren’t meant to be used as utensils; they were symbolic of the man wanting to “feed” or support his lady of choice. Source: Welsh Love Spoons (Thinkstock) (Getty Images/iStockphoto/czarny_bez)
Wooden bowl of bay laurel leaves on black chalkboard background
England On the evening before Valentine’s Day, rural Englishwomen of the 1700s would pin five bay leaves to their pillows in order to “see” their future husbands in their dreams. Other women would sprinkle bay leaves with rosewater and lay them across their pillows. According to folklore, women were supposed to wear clean nightgowns turned inside out and say the following words: “Good Valentine, be kind to me, in dreams let me my true love see.” Source: Smithsonian Magazine (Thinkstock) (Getty Images/iStockphoto/BreakingTheWalls)
China Chinese Valentine’s Day falls on the seventh day of the seventh lunar month. It’s called “Qixi,” or”Double Seventh Festival,” a celebration where young women pray for happiness and wish for a loving husband. The festival is based on the legend of a cowherd from earth and a weaver fairy from heaven who fell in love but could not be together. A goodly queen in heaven saw their love and allowed them to meet once a year, on the seventh of the seventh lunar month. It’s said that on the day of Qixi, the lovers meet on a bridge made of magpies called Que Qiao. As the stars fill the sky, some look for the Vega and Altair, and whether the third star or “bridge” appears between them. Source: Chinese Culture Shop (AP Photo/Andy Wong) (Getty Images/Jupiterimages)
Love Locks on the bridge railing
Italy Locking padlocks to bridges, railings, lamp posts and various structures around the cities is a rather recent trend emerging in Italy. Couples started this practice after Italian author Federico Moccia released his best-selling book Ho voglio di te, according to La Gazzetta Italiana. In the novel, two young lovers tie a chain and padlock around a lamppost and throw away the key to symbolize their everlasting love. Of course, local police are removing the locks from city structures almost as quickly as they are cropping up, but the sentiments must live on somewhere. Source: La Gazzetta Italiana (Thinkstock) (Getty Images/iStockphoto/pixelnest)
Denmark Denmark has a unique take on Valentine’s Day cards. Instead of the typical red, pink, white cutouts with doilies and hearts, people in Denmark give “lover’s cards.” The original “lover’s card” was transparent, with the silhouette of a person giving a gift to a loved one. The image would appear once the card was placed in the light. Nowadays, “lover’s cards” come in all shapes and forms. Also in Denmark, people shy away from bright red-hued flowers and opt to send white “snowdrop” flowers to their loved ones. Source: St. Valetine’s Day (Thinkstock) (Getty Images/iStockphoto/klagyivik)
France A now-banned tradition in France is the “drawing for love,” or “une loterie d’amour.” Details of the custom are a bit murky, but essentially, it involves single people, houses that face each other, and bonfires. Singles would enter houses that faced each other, and call for suitors out the window. Interested parties would enter a house, leading to a handful of happy couples. Male suitors who weren’t attracted to their partners had the option of leaving the house. The women left single would gather, build a large bonfire and burn the images of the men who deserted them in a ceremony. Eventually, these bonfires grew out of hand, leading to a lot of cursing and insults that caused the government to ban the love lottery. Source: Lost in France (Thinkstock) (Getty Images/iStockphoto/Tatanata)
Man's hand holding and showing heart shape, love concept, give love, or valentine's day season. Pink background.
South Africa In a tradition known as “Lupercalia,” women in South Africa wear their heart on their sleeves. They write the name of their love interest on a heart, and pin that to their shirt. It’s often how the men come to learn of their not-so-secret admirers. Derived from an ancient Roman custom in the Middle Ages, this tradition is practiced in many parts of the world today. Source: MSN News (Thinkstock) (Getty Images/iStockphoto/jesadaphorn)
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Close up shot of female hands holding gifts wrapped with white ribbon and bouquet of red roses. Time for gifts. Shallow depth of field with focus on gifts.Outdoors shot, Horizontal
Korean / Chinese pork and vegetable noodles in black bean sauce served with danmuji and kimchi.
Heart hole spoon on the wooden pastry board - baking background
Wooden bowl of bay laurel leaves on black chalkboard background
Love Locks on the bridge railing
Man's hand holding and showing heart shape, love concept, give love, or valentine's day season. Pink background.

WASHINGTON — Instead of the candy hearts, chocolates and roses that flood the market for Valentine’s Day in the United States, imagine if noodles with black bean sauce, love spoons and bay leaves were typical of the February holiday. Well, in some parts of the world — they are.

Here are some different ways people celebrate Valentine’s Day around the world.


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