Valentine’s Day Around the World – China, Japan, South Korea and Singapore

Come 14 February there is probably not a corner of the world that is not caught up in the fervor of Valentine’s Day. Criss-crossing continents, reaching even remote corners, Valentine’s Day celebrations have transcended all geographical boundaries, cultural beliefs and languages. 14 February is one day which unites all lovers of the world, when love and romance fill the air – and exchanging gifts and cards between lovers becomes the number one activity of the day!

While the essential spirit of Valentine’s Day is observed all over the world, each country has embellished it with its own unique take on the celebrations. Take a peep into how Valentine’s Day is celebrated in China, Japan, South Korea and Singapore Scottsdale Florist.

The Qi Xi Festival: Valentine’s Day in China

The Qi Xi Festival is the Chinese equivalent of Valentine’s Day. It is, however, not celebrated on 14 February like the rest of the world, but is guided by the lunar calendar – falling on the seventh day of the seventh month of the lunar calendar each year. In 2009, Qi Xi was observed on 26 August, while in 2010 this date will be 16 August.

Legends surround the genesis of Qi Xi but the common thread of a tragic love story runs through all of them. It is believed that it is on this Chinese Valentine’s Day the star-crossed couple – a cowherd and a weaver – meets in heaven each year. Having been banished for an eternity of separation by the Goddess of Heaven, it is only once a year that she relents and allows magpies to build a bridge for them to meet.

On this day, young, unmarried girls engage in melon carving and demonstrate their other domestic skills as they wish for a good husband.

Valentine’s Day in Japan, South Korea and Taiwan

Do you know that Japan, South Korea and Taiwan have two Valentine’s Day in a year – one on 14 February and the second, a month later, on 14 March?

Many hearts break and mend on Valentine’s Day but perhaps nowhere else does a chocolate seal the happiness of a man as surely as it does in Japan, South Korea and Taiwan! Roles get reversed in these South Asian countries where it is the women who give chocolates to all the men in their lives on Valentine’s Day. Not surprisingly, the chocolate assumes tremendous significance for these men, particularly the type of chocolate that is given. Store-bought stuff is called ‘giri-choco’ which is more or less a ‘courtesy chocolate’. As the name suggests, it is mostly given out of courtesy to those ills in whom the woman has no romantic interest whatsoever (the smitten and hapless male lives in dread of receiving this ‘gift’). Those who have captured the fair maiden’s hearts are rewarded with delicious, homemade chocolates, or the ‘honmei-choko’!

White Day!

A month later, on March 14, it is payback time as the men give return gifts to all the women who presented them with chocolates. This is known as the White Day. Well, it is almost like having two Valentine’s Days in a year! Started in Japan in 1978, it was supposed to be the answer to Valentine’s Day. The men usually shower the ladies with candies, chocolates (white chocolate in particular) and marshmallows.

Black Day

While both Japan and South Korea watch White Day, the singles in South Korea have created another day that is unique to them. Called the ‘Black Day’, it is ‘celebrated’ a month later (on 14 April) to lament their still-single status! Lonely hearts mark the day by dressing in appropriate dark-colored clothes, eating noodles with black bean sauce and mingling with other singletons!

Valentine’s Day in Singapore

While flowers have always been an inseparable part of Valentine’s Day all over the world, it is Singapore that truly becomes a flower-decked nation on 14 February! This island nation has a large youth population for whom Valentine’s Day is a big event. Cupid-struck Singaporeans simply cannot have enough of flowers – and more flowers! – to express their heart’s desire for their sweethearts. For a smitten young man, a flower becomes much more than just an attractive offering but rather the unspoken language of his love.

Roses dominate the day, holding court in all their many-hued splendor. The very air is filled with the exotic fragrance of roses of every possible color on Valentine’s Day.

Of late, a trend that is catching on among youngsters is to look beyond the rose as the traditional flower for Valentine’s Day. Those who wish to make a ‘flower statement’ prefer other blooms such as elegant tulips and orchids (the flower of everlasting love ) on Valentine’s Day in Singapore.

Now working in the UK gift retailing industry, Daya is an experienced writer and journalist. Her writing is featured at a number of UK websites. Recently, Daya launched into a project to research Saint Valentine’s Day. She’s investigating its origins, historical significance and the way Valentine’s Day is celebrated the world over. Find more of what online.

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