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Valentine’s day traditions around the world

Valentine’s Day is a time for lovers to pamper each other with flowers and chocolates, right? Well, that’s not always the case. While most countries have traditions and rituals that celebrate romantic love, they aren’t always done in the most customary ways. From one side of the Pacific to the other, you’ll find lusty pigs, spoons and entwined lovers.

In South Korea, Valentine’s Day is separated in to two different days of the year. Feb. 14, is the day for the woman to spoil her man with gifts, candy and flowers. The tables turn a month later, on March 14, also known as “White Day,” where the man returns the love shown to him in February.

Plenty of countries follow the same tradition as America by giving flowers and chocolates, such as areas like Taiwan, Italy, Austria and Britain. But in other countries, lovers give gifts that are a little more specific.

The Huffington Post lists some of the different offerings. A spoon is the ultimate sign of affection in the small country of Wales. The Welsh celebrate on Jan. 25, by giving their lover an intricately carved spoon with different symbols and designs. A horseshoe for good luck could be carved into the handle of the spoon, wheels to symbolize support, or even a key to show that they have the key to their heart. By the way, the expression “spooning,” meaning courting, came from the old Elizabethan times, when dating included sneaking off to small dark corners for a few moments of privacy. At some point, the young woman’s father gave the boy a piece of wood. By the end of the night he had to return it in the form of a spoon. This was a way of showing what the boy had been doing with his hands all night.

Although Denmark only started to recognize Valentine’s Day as a holiday in 1990, they have since developed their own special gift to commemorate the day —pressed white flowers called snowdrops.

Germans give each other an uncommon gift — a pig. It symbolizes luck and lust. The pig can be given in the form of a miniature statue, as a picture, or even as chocolate. When you picture an animal of lust, most don’t think of a pig, but for the Germans it implies that they are hoping that, with a little bit of luck, the evening will take a romantic turn. The pigs on Valentine’s Day cards are seen in a provocative manner, suggesting that the giver wants to “B-oink.”

The common card given on Valentine’s Day wasn’t always so common. The card, called the “Lover’s Card,” was thought to have originated in France when Charles, Duke of Orleans, sent love letters to his wife from prison and signed it, “Your Valentine.”

In other countries, couples don’t exchange gifts at all, but revel in their love by simply being together and enjoying one another’s company. In South America, specifically countries like Brazil and Chile, couples stroll through cities on June 12 to see musical performances and concerts, and the decorations that are specifically designed in an elaborate way for couples to explore together.

While Valentine’s Day is a beautiful holiday for lovers, it isn’t typically a holiday for the single population, but in some countries, it offers hope and expectancy for young men and women around the world.

For example, the French hold an event called “loterie d’amour,” or “drawing for love.” It’s a traditional experience where single men and women have a chance to meet the love of their life. A group of men and women gather in houses across from each other, yell out a name and pair off with their chosen partner — although, the men could leave the woman they chose if they didn’t agree with their first pick.

If you are an unmarried women in England, it was tradition to place five bay leaves on your pillow to bring dreams of a future husband.

An Italian tradition is for young, unattached women to believe in love at first sight, and trust to fate. The women wake up before dawn and the first man she sees on Valentine’s Day is the man she will marry within a year.

Women in South America literally wear their hearts on their sleeve on Feb. 14. The women pin the name of their love on their arms to let the men know who they admire and want, with hope that by the end of the day their love will be acknowledged.

Love is love around the world. Although it is celebrated in many ways the notion is the same — to say I love you.

Cassandra Jenkins 

UP staff writer

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