Forget the dictionary; love speaks its own language. Around the world, love is spoken in a chorus of unique customs, each one a vivid stanza in love poetry.
Here are the different dialects beyond the familiar whispers of roses and chocolates.
St Dwynwen’s Day is Wales’ very own version of St Valentine’s Day and is observed on the 25th of January. Some of the activities carried out that day include: exchange of gifts and cards, Gifts and cards are exchanged, special meals with loved ones, long walks on deserted beaches, carve lovespoons, cuddling in front of a roaring log fire and all that romantic fuzziness.
St Dwynwen the Welsh patron saint of lovers, was the prettiest of King Brychan Brycheiniog’s 24 daughters. Despite her father’s plans for her, she fell in love with a local lad called Maelon Dafodrill. When their love faced obstacles, Dwynwen sought divine intervention. God granted her three wishes: to thaw Maelon, to aid true lovers, and to forsake marriage. In gratitude, she became a nun and founded a convent on Llanddwyn Island, where her legacy lives on.
Valentine’s day in Valencia takes place on October 9th, which is the Day of Saint Dionysius, the patron saint of love. To celebrate, Valencians give each other gifts, usually marzipan wrapped in a handkerchief, on this day. According to tradition, the person receiving the gift must keep the handkerchief in which the marzipan is wrapped – the cloth is proof of how long you have been with your partner.
South Africans celebrate Valentine every February 14. In addition to the commonly observed tradition of going out on a romantic date with one’s Valentine, young girls celebrate the occasion by pinning their lovers name on their sleeves. At some places, men also follow this custom.
Valentine’s Day, also known as Araw ng mga Puso in the Filipino language, is a celebration of love every February 14. Asides gift giving, government institutions organize mass weddings where Filipino couples who have been dating for a while and living together can get married for free.
Miao, South West China
Sisters’ Meal festival of the Miao minority people in China is regarded as the oldest “Valentine’s Day” of China. During the Sister’s Meal Festival women cook an assortment of colourful rice dishes which are wrapped in silk and offered to serenading suitors. The fate of the relationship rides upon the item found within the rice. Two chopsticks mean love, but a clove of garlic means the romance is over before it even started.
Whilst in most nations it is the women that are spoilt on Valentine’s Day, in Japan it is the men that receive gifts of chocolate. It is not until March 14th, known as White Day that men can choose to return the favour.
Love has no boundaries, and its expression takes as many forms as the human heart itself. Go above and beyond the norm this Valentine’s Day and celebrate the diversity of love found throughout the world. Be inspired by ancient traditions, customs, and heartfelt gestures that remind us that love is a universal language, spoken in a thousand different ways.
So, open your heart, embrace the world, and remember, love truly knows no bounds.
Happy Valentine’s Day!