The “Day of Hearts” is fast-approaching. And in most places around the world, February 14 marks the day when overpriced flowers, stuffed teddies, or anything heart-shaped is considered as the go-to gift idea to remember your loved ones and make them feel special.
Regardless if you are a hopeless romantic or not, it is very typical you have something romantic planned on this day with your significant other – not unless you want to get in trouble! In fact, preparations and hotel/restaurant reservations are more likely done weeks ahead of this day. And I must say, Valentine’s Day is a close contender for the top spot of the “most important event” celebrated by couples around the world – apart from wedding anniversaries, of course!
But did you know there are some countries observing “weird” traditions during this day? Read more to find out!
Japanese men enjoy Vday a lot more
The tradition of “chocolate giving” during Valentine’s Day was initially targeted for foreigners living in Japan already accustomed to celebrating this day of love by a company called Morozoff Ltd. However, after Morozoff played the Valentine’s Day ad, other Japanese confectioners joined the bandwagon. These smart business owners came up with the idea of introducing “different types of chocolates” to give every Valentine’s Day in the 1950s. But, with the huge difference of targeting women as their audience!
The weird thing about the Japanese chocolate gift-giving is that it is the women’s role to give chocolates to men during February 14. Women will buy and give the box of chocolate to the “men in their lives”. But the chocolate is not the same for all men – it is done according to the category.
The first category is called “giri-choko”, which is literally translated as “obligatory chocolate” and gifted to men whom the woman has no romantic interest like colleagues or relatives. The second category is “cho-giri choko”, which I wouldn’t want to give to anybody (IMO), as it is a “step-down” from the first category. The “cho-giri choko” is often gifted to men whom you don’t really want to give any gifts (like an unpopular colleague) but would “feel bad” not to give any on that day – ouch! The third category is the most special among the categories as it is reserved for the woman’s significant other tagged as “honmei-choko”. Literally translated as “favorite chocolate”, some women even go as far to let their loved ones feel on top of the moon – by giving homemade chocolates!
Finland and Estonia will get you ‘friendzoned’
February 14 may be the most popular day in these countries to tie the knot or to get engaged, but traditionally, this is a day for friendship! Ystävän Päivä is the Finnish term for this day, which literally translates to “Friend’s Day”. It is customary for close friends to exchange gifts and greeting cards (similar to how lovers do in most countries) on this day but on a completely platonic level. So, if you are living in any of these countries, don’t be surprised to receive a memento on this day from friends. But don’t expect anything in the shade of red or heart-shaped, though!
Apples and cloves are the “in thing” in Iraq
Adam and Eve are the first known couple of mankind. And to commemorate their love for each other (despite being thrown out from Eden), the Iraqi Kurds used them as the inspiration for this tradition. The Iraqi Kurds believe in the festivity of love and thought that gifting (and decorating) of apples and cloves will bring forth prosperity and love in their lives.
Not everybody in Iraq follows this tradition, though. And I guess being in a country where modesty is strongly encouraged, something as bright and red as an apple is the next best thing to show your loved one how you feel.