Valentine's Day in Other Cultures

Valentine's Day in Other Cultures

In Japan and Korea, Valentine's Day has emerged, thanks to a concentrated marketing effort, as a day on which women give candy to men they like. Rather than being voluntary however, this has become for many women (especially those who work in offices) an obligation, and they give chocolates to all their male co-workers, sometimes at significant personal expense. This chocolate is known as giri-choco, in Japan, from the words giri (obligation) and choco, a common short version of chokoreto, meaning chocolate. This is opposed to honmei-choco, which is given to a person that someone loves or has a strong relationship with. Friends (usually girls) exchange chocolate that is referred to as tomo-choco.

By a further marketing effort, a reciprocal day, called White Day has emerged. On this day (March 14), men are supposed to return the favour by giving something to those who gave them chocolates on Valentine's Day. Many men, however, give only to their girlfriends. Originally the return gift was supposed to be white chocolate or marshmallows (hence the name "White Day"). However, more recently men have taken the name to a different meaning, thus lingerie is quite a common gift.

In Korea, there is also an additional Black Day, held on April 14, when males who did not receive anything for Valentine's Day gather together to eat Jajangmyun (Chinese-style noodles in black sauce). In South Korea, there's also Pepero Day, celebrated on November 11, during which young couples give each other romantic gifts.

In Chinese Culture, there is a similar counterpart of the Valentine's Day. It is called "The Night of Sevens", on the 7th day of the 7th month of the lunar calendar; the last one being August 11, 2005 [2]. (A slightly different version of this day is celebrated in Japan as Tanabata, on July 7th (the same day, but transcribed to the solar calendar)).

In Persian Culture (Iran) this popular date is discreetly celebrated by most lovers despite the disapproval of such occasion by the hardline Islamic government as a copycat of the west, but Persian youths and adults manage to celebrate following the traditions of the west disregarding the limitations and restrictions imposed by the government.

In Brazil, there is no such day as Valentine's Day. Instead, on June 12, "Dia dos Namorados" (lit. "Day of the enamored", or "Boyfriend's/Girlfriend's Day") is celebrated. On this day, boyfriends and girlfriends, husbands and wives, exchange gifts (lingerie, chocolates, and more), cards and usually a flower bouquet. This day is chosen probably because it is one day before the Saint Anthony's day, there known as the marriage saint, when many single women perform popular rituals in order to find a good husband (or, more modernly, a boyfriend).

In Colombia, the "Día del amor y la amistad" (lit. "Love and Friendship Day") is celebrated on the third Friday and Saturday in September, because of commercial issues. In this country the Amigo secreto ("Secret friend") tradition is quite popular, which consists of randomly assigning to each participent a recipient who is to be given an anonmyous gift (similar to the Christmas tradition of Secret Santa).

In Mexico, the "Día del amor y la amistad" is celebrated similar to Colombia but this one falls on February 14.