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How Valentine’s Day is Celebrated around the World

Being in love is perhaps the most wonderful feeling in the world. You are filled with happiness that is difficult to explain in words. Maybe that is why there is a special day in the year when love is celebrated. People use this day, Valentine’s Day, to reaffirm their love for their partners, spouse, children and other family members. It is that one day in the year when even matured adults can behave like lovelorn teenagers and no one will blink an eyelid!

Valentine’s Day is celebrated all over the world, regardless of a person’s religious beliefs, ethnicity and race. On this day, people celebrate love like never before. But each country has its own unique way of celebrating Valentine’s Day. Here is a look at some of those countries and how they rejoice and commemorate this day of love.

United States of America

It is claimed that the early British settlers brought in Valentine’s Day celebrations when they came to the New World. In the US, gift as well as card giving is widely followed. The stores and markets don a festive look and sell a wide array of gifts a few weeks before the actual day arrives. Card giving has been a staple of Valentine’s Day since early half of 1700s and this trend continues even today. Some of the gifts that people exchange on this day include fresh flowers, chocolates, candies, goody baskets, lingerie, champagne and sparkling wine. Usually the candies are bought in heart-shaped boxed and come with a red ribbon. There are even people, who buy more expensive gifts, such as diamond jewelry, rings, earrings and bracelets. It is common for couples to head to restaurants for a romantic meal to celebrate this day. Schools tend to organize song and dance performances, plays, skits. Classrooms are decorated using lace, and paper hearts are strung all over. Students gift teachers and friends with cards and other handmade items.

Australia

The country started giving importance to Valentine’s Day during the Gold Rush, when miners suddenly came into wealth because of Ballarat Mines in New South Wales. They were willing to spend a lot on fancy and expensive gifts. These gifts ranged from perfumed and ornately decorated satin cushions to taxidermied Bird of Paradise. Today, too Australians follow an elaborate way of celebrating and expressing love. Cards are sent in large numbers. The Australians believe that Valentine’s Day is not just for couples; it is also a day to strength bonds between family and friends. Apart from exchanging cards, it is common to exchange bouquets or present a person with a modern gadget. Modern methods of communication, such as text messages, IMs and emails, are used to send messages of love.

Britain

There is a long history of Valentine’s Day celebration in Britain. Even today, some of the customs and traditions are followed. For instance, in the countryside, unmarried girls may wake up before the sun rises and keep an eye out for an eligible man. It is believed that the first man the girl sees on Valentine’s Day would be the one they marry or a man, who resembles him. In fact, this Valentine’s Day belief has even found a mention in Shakespeare’s Hamlet.

Today, in the cities and towns, most people send cards, flowers and chocolates to their loved ones. Valentine’s Day parties are common among the youth, who head to pubs and discotheques. Couples, who want privacy, may opt for a romantic getaway to an exotic place or have a candlelight dinner in a restaurant. Different regions in Britain have their own customs and traditions to celebrate this day, with some places even baking Valentine buns with plums, raisins and caraway seeds.

Scotland

Scotland celebrates Valentine’s Day by hosting a festival, which has same number of eligible men and women. These individuals write down their names on a piece of paper, which is then placed in a hat, with one for the ladies and one for the men. The ladies pick a name from the hat and so do the men. The man has to partner the lady, who picked out his name even if the two drawn names do not match. Once this pseudo-matchmaking finishes, couples exchange gifts and this is followed by a dance. This is an important matchmaking event, as many times, marriage does take place between couples.

India

In India, Valentine’s Day is quite a recent celebration, with the younger generation embracing it. Stores and gift shops advertise their wares weeks in advance and most of them are decorated with symbols of love, such as cupid, angles, red ribbons and heart-shaped ornaments. Cards, soft toys, fresh flowers and chocolates are commonly exchanged between couples. Shopping malls organize competitions to attract youngsters. Private parties and get-togethers are common, and many young people use Valentine’s Day to express their feelings. On this day, especially in the evenings, pubs, restaurants, discotheques and shopping malls are filled with couples.

Canada

In Canada, Valentine’s Day celebrations gained awareness during the middle of the 19th century. Initially, the day was used by manufacturers to promote their products, but with time, it has turned into a day for people to express their love.

When Valentine’s Day started out, it was common for couples to exchange paintings and hand written love notes. However, this is now a forgotten ritual, with cards and e-cards dominating the scene. Balls and parties are organized throughout the country, and couples reaffirm their love or express their feelings to one another. Flowers, candles, chocolates and other trinkets are gifted to spouses and partners. The day is seen as a joyous day, where even children exchange gifts with their friends. Some schools encourage children to put their Valentines in boxes, which are then distributed by the class teacher. Schools may also put on performances and plays.

New Zealand

It is common for couples to go on romantic outings or picnics on Valentine’s Day. Often resorts and holiday cottages are completely booked for this day when couples head over to spend time together in a romantic manner. This is a day for parties and get-togethers, which see friends and family coming together to spend quality time with one another. Houses get decorated with balloons, flowers, cupids, lovebird ornaments and other symbols of love. A delicious meal is prepared and families may organize games to have fun. It is day for merriment and laughter, and being in the presence of people you love and care for.

Regardless of where you are living, the underlying principle of Valentine’s Day is the same. It is a day to profess and express love, and spend quality time with your loved ones. This is one day in the year when cultural differences are set aside and people throughout the world celebrate it in their own unique manner and tradition. People take time out of their busy schedules to make another person feel special and loved, and that offers a lot of satisfaction and contentment. The appeal and romance that comes with Valentine’s Day is unbelievable. It is the most celebrated festival in the world, after Christmas. It honors love and all the feelings that go with it. It is not just a day for couples, but also for anyone who loves another person, be it a parent, sibling, spouse, partner or friend.

Jonathan Farrington

How is Valentine’s Day celebrated in your country? Send us your story!

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