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Valentine's Day around the world

Our friends at The Week share the cute and quirky Valentine's traditions around the world...



Japan: Japanese chocolate companies make half their annual sales in the week leading up to Valentine's Day, although it's not the men who are shelling out their hard-earned cash. In Japan it's traditional for women to do the spoiling. It's not all rosy for the boys, though – they are expected to return the favour on White Day, which falls on 14 March.

South Korea: In Korea they take it a step further. As well as celebrating Valentine's Day and White Day, they also mark Black Day (14 April), on which people not in relationships meet in restaurants to eat black noodles and mourn/celebrate being single.

France: In days of yore, so the legend goes, the single men and women of a village would call to each other from houses on opposite sides of the road in order to find a mate. This was called a "loterie d'amour" (love lottery). If the pairing didn't work out, the scorned women would burn pictures of the men who rejected them on a bonfire while shouting vulgar insults. This eventually led to the practice being outlawed.

Germany: Although Valentine's Day didn't catch on in Germany until after World War Two, the Germans have already developed their own unique tradition for the festival – their Valentine's Day displays are just as likely to feature pigs as roses and love hearts. The pig is a traditional symbol of luck – marzipan pigs are also traditionally given to family and friends at New Year.

Finland and Estonia: Here Valentine's Day is as much a celebration of friendship as it is of romantic love. In both languages the name given to 14 February translates as Friend's Day.

Wales: In Wales, Dydd Santes Dwynwen is celebrated on 25 January, a day that commemorates St Dwynwen, the patron saint of Welsh lovers.

China: Qixi, the Chinese equivalent to Valentine’s Day, falls on the seventh day of the seventh lunar month each year. Known as the Seventh Night Festival it dates back to an old legend when Zhinu, a heavenly king’s daughter, and Niulang, a poor cowherd, fell in love, married and had twins. Separated by Zhinu’s father, it is said the couple are reunited for one night each year.

To mark this occasion, young women prepare offerings of melon and other fruits to Zhinu in hopes of finding a good husband. Couples also head to temples to pray for happiness and prosperity.

Philippines: While Valentine’s Day celebrations are similar to those of western countries, the practice of mass weddings has gained popularity in recent years, leading to hundreds of couples tying the knot or renewing their vows at shopping malls or other public places.

England: Perhaps one of the oddest Valentine’s Day traditions can be found in England. The HuffPost UK says that on the eve on Valentine’s Day, “women in England used to place five bay leaves on their pillows — one at each corner and one in the center — to bring dreams of their future husbands. Alternatively, they would wet bay leaves with rosewater and place them across their pillows.”

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