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Celebrating Valentine’s Day in Asia
Valentine’s Day, also called Saint Valentine’s Day, is on February 14. Christians started it in Western Europe. It was the day to honor a Christian martyr named Valentinus, so it was not exactly the most romantic day. Chaucer’s poems about Valentines in the 1300s were the first to link Valentine’s Day to romantic love.
Valentine’s day is celebrated all over the world! Photo by Steve Halama / CC BY
The day has come a long way since then, and is now synonymous with heart-shaped boxes of chocolates and cards with confessions of love. It is not only for Westerners’ anymore, but its celebration has also spread all over the world, including Asia.
Instead of celebrating only Valentine’s Day, the Japanese have another day to celebrate love. Photo by Sasint / CC BY
When it comes to Valentine’s Day, Japanese are doubling the fun! First, it is women’s turn to treat men with chocolates on Valentine’s Day. Giri-choco is given with no romantic intentions to male friends or colleagues. Honmei-choco, on the other hand, is meant to give for the special other such as boyfriend or husband and (unlike giri-choco) it is usually handmade by the women to show true love. White Day comes a month after Valentine’s Day and then it is men’s turn to pamper women with small gifts of chocolate and flowers.
In Korea, Valentine’s Day has been well received, and like Japan, they also celebrate it on two different days. On February 14, women are supposed to give men chocolate, and the stores will be filled with do-it-yourself chocolate kits. On White Day, it is men’s turn to reciprocate and give women gifts. Even singles are included in the celebrations, since the people who did not receive any chocolate on Valentine’s or White Day, get together and go out to eat black bean noodles on Black Day, April 14.
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Chinese have their own version of Valentine’s Day celebrated on the 7th day of the 7th month in the lunar calendar. This year the day falls on August 28. The Qixi Festival, as it is called, originates from a romantic legend of two lovers, the weaver maid and cowherd, and commemorates the day they are finally able to meet.
Qixi Festival is important to newlyweds who would give offerings to the lovers to ensure that their own marriage would be happy. However, many Chinese have adopted the Western way of celebrating Valentine’s Day and exchange gifts with their loved ones.
Thais love to celebrate Valentine’s Day and relevant decorations with flowers and hearts fill the surroundings. Thai Valentine’s Day, Wan Valentine, does not differ that much from the Western counterpart, except that it is not recommended to give chocolate as a gift – it melts too fast in the tropical heat!
Love songs have a special place in Thai people’s hearts and you can hear them playing wherever you go. In Bangkok, people visit Trimurti Shrine to make offerings and wishes for good luck and love, and during Valentine’s Day the front of the shrine is covered with red roses.
In which Asian country would you like to celebrate Valentine’s Day?
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