Today is Valentine’s Day which dates back to 496 AD when it was established by Pope Gelasius I. By the 15th century it had become a time for lovers to express their love toward one another through flowers, candied goods and greeting cards (known as “valentines”). However, in 1969 Pope Paul VI obliterated it from the German Roman Calendar. But that hasn’t seemed to stop people all around the world – including those in Italy and Germany – from marking the day in some romantic way. Let’s take a look.
Getting married on this day has taken on some interesting traditions in Thailand like saying “I do” underwater; sky-diving or hanging off cliff-sides. But if you’re going to go popular, you’ll need to get wed at Bangkok’s Village of Love. For those seeking something a bit more spiritual, it is traditional to lay candles, incense and red roses at the Trimurti shrine and pray for a husband at the Hindu deity’s feet.
Although we get the impression Germans don’t know how to do romance, it’s actually not the case. Since the end of the Second World War, Valentine’s Day (known as Valentinstag in Germany) has become increasingly popular with Germans making heart-shaped gingerbread cookies for their loved ones.
Japan has two celebratory days for Valentine’s. On February 14th women usually give their boyfriends chocolate as part of the “giri choco” tradition; indeed, they can give up to 20 boxes without seeming weird! This dates back to the 1950s when the holiday started and a wise Japanese chocolate manufacturer saw a chance to boost the economy and make a nice tidy profit at the same time. Soon enough, everyone jumped in and tons of chocolate was being sold on this day. According to a Bloomberg report, half of all chocolate sold each year in Japan is on Valentine’s day.
But it doesn’t end here for the egalitarian Japanese. On March 14th – White Day – men shower their ladies with chocolate (of course) as well as jewelry and lingerie.
Of course Italy has to have something huge on Valentine’s Day, being known as one of the most romantic countries in the world. Couples go to Verona for “Verona in Love” at which a variety of Shakespeare-themed events are held like tours to retrace Romeo and Juliet’s footsteps; a competition to choose the best love letter to Juliet or a moment with Juliet’s statue for good fortune. As well, one can enjoy the gorgeous city for what it has to offer: vineyards; boutique hotels and tons of candle-lit eateries to bring out the romantic in everyone.
The British do the traditional stuff of cards, flowers, chocolates and hearts, but one might be curious as to what the newly-wed Royals will be doing on their first Valentine’s Day as a married couple. Unfortunately nothing all that romantic since William is deployed at the Falkland Islands today. However, not to want to waste a day on frivolity, his bride Kate will be spending time with children at a medical facility run by one of her charities of choice – Action and Addiction. Perhaps she’ll get a bouquet sent to her by her loved one anyway…