Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Valentine's around the World

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Valentine's is a holiday of love. In the United States, as well as many other countries around the world, it is a romantic holiday. Couples give gifts to each other as a sign of love. Most of the advertising goes towards couples - heart shaped chocolates, red roses (which go up in price, from February 1-14th), and jewelry - although children are not exempt from participating.

Around the world, there are countries who celebrate it differently. It's great to teach kids about other cultures and traditions, especially when they can do similar activities! Here are a few countries that celebrate it in a different way.

  • In Mexico, Valentine's Day is called the Day of Love and Friendship, or Día del Amor y la Amistad
  • Their focus is a lot on giving gifts to romantic partners as well as friends. 
  • Children will exchange gifts at school.
  • Many schools will also have bazaars, with snacks and appetizers, romantic movies, and a "civil registry" where couples can "get married" as part of the game.
Photo Credit: Nillerdk via Wikimedia Commons
  • Here they exchange flowers, but instead of the traditional roses of the US, they exchange pressed snowdrops, which is a white flower.
  • Cards are also exchanged between people who are romantically involved, as well as friends.
  • Men give women "gaekkebrev", a "joking letter". It has a funny poem or rhyme that is written on cut paper (similar to a paper snowflake). 
  • The letter is signed with anonymous dots. If the woman can guess who sent it to her, she gets an Easter egg later that year.
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  • Here Valentine's Day is a day where the women give gifts of chocolate to the men. There are two types of chocolates, "Giri-choco", and "Honmei-choco"
    •  "Giri-choco" is considered obligation chocolate. It is given to friends, colleagues, bosses, and close male friends. There is no romance involved in these chocolates.
    • "Honmei-choco" is given to boyfriends, lovers, or husbands with true love. These chocolates are made by hand since store bought chocolates are not considered a sign of true love.
  • On March 14th, they also have "White Day", where men who received chocolates from a woman are supposed to return the gifts by giving them chocolates, usually white in color. They may also give flowers, other candies, or other gifts.
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  • In Wales, they celebrate Saint Dwynwen, the Welsh patron saint of lovers, on January 25th.
  • A traditional gift is a wooden spoon. Men would carve patterns and symbols into the spoons, each with a different meaning. 
  • These would include symbols such as horseshoes for good luck, wheels which symbolize support, or keys which would symbolize the keys to a man's heart.
  • Today this tradition is carried out by exchanging love spoons for celebrations such as weddings, anniversaries, and births.

Know of other traditions that are fun to do with kids? We'd love to hear about them! Please comment, and feel free to include pictures!

Want to learn more about celebrating the holiday? Click below to learn more!

Mexico                                         Japan                                    Other Countries

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