Weird & Wonderful: Valentine’s Day Traditions from around the World
Look, we don’t want to be culturally insensitive, but when you're used to getting a bunch of flowers and a box of chocolates from the local garage (the height of romance), the following traditions might seem just a little bit odd. All it really means is that we’ve got to step up our Valentine’s game. Here’s 5 ways you can, hand picked from around the world.
1) The Glücksschwein is the star of the show in Germany
Image source: flickr/elzey
If you were to celebrate Valentine’s day in Germany, you would recognise the usual Valentine’s Day accoutrements of chocolates, cards and flowers. However, you might scratch your head over the many depictions of pigs. These pigs might be holding flowers, have little wings, or be climbing ladders to reach hearts.
This is the Glücksschwein or “Lucky Pig.” The pig is a symbol of luck and lust in Germany, so it’s the perfect animal mascot for Valentine’s Day. The luck aspect is especially apparent in another popular design of lucky pig, which is often seen clutching a four leaf clover.
It’s also worth noting that Valentine’s Day in Germany is traditionally for adults only. It’s not as smutty as it sounds - it simply means that you're less likely to find school children exchanging cards and gifts, as you might expect to find in classrooms across the world.
Valentine’s Day isn’t the only time when the Glücksschwein gets to shine. The gifting of marzipan pigs for good luck is also a German New Year’s tradition.
2) Receive a Gaekkebrev in Denmark
Image source: Wikimedia
Picture the scene. It’s Valentine’s Day in Denmark, and you receive a mysterious love letter. Opening it, you find a rhyme or poem. It’s affectionate, but with a humorous twist, and is signed at the bottom not with a name but a series of dots.
This is a gaekkebrev, which roughly translates to “joke letter.” Often cut into the shape of a snowdrop flower (which is also a Danish Valentine’s symbol) or heart, these notes are part of a larger game. Once you receive a gaekkebrev, come Easter it’s up to you to guess who the sender is. Get it right, and you’ll be rewarded with an Easter egg, but get in wrong and it’s up to you to gift an egg to the note’s author.
Surely if you’re already in a relationship, then it can’t be hard to guess where your gaekkebrev came from, effectively making it a guaranteed IOU for an Easter egg? Fantastic idea, we’re wholeheartedly on board.
3) Carve a Lovespoon in Wales
Image source: flickr/joe_mac_1
St Dwynwen's Day is celebrated in Wales on January 25th, and can be considered the Welsh equivalent to Valentine's Day. That’s not to say Valentine’s Day is celebrated in Wales as well, but St Dwynwen's Day has some unique aspects that make it stand out.
One of the most famous aspects is the giving of a “lovespoon.” These ornately carved wooden spoons were traditionally gave to women by men as a sign of courtship (at least as far back as the 17th century), but are now more closely related to St Dwynwen's Day itself.
The biggest ever lovespoon was carved in 2007 and took over a week to finish. At 44ft (13.41m), it feels like maybe we should choose a different way to show our affection this year - there’s no way we’re completing with this.
4) Board a Love Bus in Estonia
Image source: Roman Koval
In Estonia, February 14th is Sõbrapäev, or “Friends Day.” It's not all about couples, so everyone can get involved. Friends and family members exchange presents, and platonic love is put front and centre during the celebrations.
That doesn’t mean there’s no romance to be found. You’ll see streets, shops and restaurants decorated with familiar love-theme designs, and any singletons can take a ride on a “love bus” where they can meet other people who might be looking to find a potential date. Seems like the only dating app you need in Estonia is the bus timetable.
5) Jack Valentine might leave your presents in Norfolk, England
Image source: Urban Gifts
We’re getting specific here, as we head to the English county of Norfolk, where a peculiar Valentine’s tradition has survived the test of time.
It’s not just couples and crushes that get gifts here. Anyone, adults and children alike, might find a present on their doorstep, left by a mysterious and mystical figure known as Jack Valentine.
A Father Christmas-like character, Jack Valentine is known for playing pranks as much as giving gifts. On Valentine’s Eve, or the big day itself, Jack leaves small presents on the doorstep before knocking and running away (or some say, disappearing into thin air). There’s even stories of children going to retrieve their presents when suddenly the gift is yanked away, as if pulled by an invisible string! Don’t worry, the child catches their gift eventually, it’s all part of the fun. How long it takes to catch depends on how much the parent operating the string likes their kid mischievous Jack Valentine is feeling we guess.
Will you be adopting any new Valentine’s Day traditions this year? We take no responsibility for anyone who falls flat on their face chasing one of Jack Valentine’s presents down the street.Couples, List, Travel, Valentine's Day, Weird & Wonderful