Tag Archives: relationships

10 Valentine’s Day Celebrations from Around the World

February 14, 2013


It’s Valentine’s Day today, and though I’m no fan of the over the top commercialization of love, I’m still a romantic at heart. I couldn’t let this day go by without delving a little deeper into its history and origins and finding out how the rest of the world celebrates. It is a temporary diversion from evaluating international credentials though I’m still maintaining a “global” perspective.

Without going into too much detail (for the longer version check out this link http://www.history.com/topics/valentines-day), its believed that the origins of this day of love stemmed in an attempt by the early Christian church to “Christianize” the pagan celebration of Lupercalia, a fertility festival celebrated on February 15 or the Ides of February. By the end of the 5th century, Lupercalia was outlawed and February 14th was declared by Pope Gelasius as St. Valentine’s Day. Now, it needs to be said that the Catholic Church recognizes at least three different martyred saints named Valentine each with his own appeal as a sympathetic, heroic and romantic figure.

Here in America, we celebrate February 14th by exchanging greeting cards, giving chocolates, gifts and roses. I’ve randomly picked 10 countries to see how they celebrate this day or similar day dedicated to love and here’s what I found:

1. Brazil – Celebrates “Dias dos Namorados” or the Day of the Enamored on June 12th where couples exchange flowers, chocolates, and presents. They celebrate it on June 12th because June 13th happens to be Saint Anthony’s Day, which is when single women perform “simpatias” or rituals to attract a nice boyfriend. They probably don’t celebrate it in February because it’s too close to Carnival, which by itself is a love-fest of its own!


2. China – Celebrates two Valentine’s Days, one being the commercially recognized February 14th and the other falls on the seventh day of the seventh month of the Chinese lunar calendar, known as “Qi Xi,” or “Magpie Festival,” or “The Night of Sevens.” The legend is that a young cowherd and a weaver girl, who happened to be the daughter of the Goddess, met on earth, fell in love and married. But when the Goddess learned of her daughter’s marriage, she ordered her return to heaven. The cowherd followed his beloved which angered the Goddess who cast a river into the sky, creating the Milky Way, separating the two lovers. But once a year, all the magpies from around the world would fly up into the Milky Way forming a bridge over the river so that two
lovers could meet and reunite.


3. Dominican Republic – Friends and family play a game called “Angelito” where they rip pieces of paper and write the name of another person, either girl or boy. Then each player gives his/her “angelito” a present.

4. El Salvador – Same game as “Angelito” in the Dominican Republic, but they call theirs “secreto.”

5. Japan – There are two Valentine’s Days in Japan. On February 14th, girls give dark chocolate to the boys they like and on March 14th, boys give cookies or white chocolate to the girls they like.

6. Slovenia – Celebrates the day of love on March 12, or Saint Gregory’s Day, known traditionally as the day of love and the first day of spring, although Valentine’s Day/February 14th has usurped tradition. There’s Pust, or Carnival, where Slovenians celebrate the beginning of a new cycle of nature and farming. The celebration includes wearing masks and costumes resembling the animals in the field. To learn more about this festival, check out this link: http://www.slovenia.info/en/Pustne-prireditve/search-selected.htm?carnival=0&srch=1&srchtype=sel&sqlst=3090&lng=2&ctgrdr=1

“Pust” (Carnival) Celebration in Slovenia

7. South Korea – Apparently the 14th day of every month is celebrated in some way to honor love in Korea. There is Kiss Day, Green Day, Wine Day, Hug Day, you get the picture. But on February 14th, also known as White Day, men give candy or gifts to women. On April 14th or Black Day, the women who didn’t get anything on February 14th, go to Chinese restaurants and eat black noodles to mourn their lackluster love life.
A bowl of jjajang myeon noodles served on Black Day, image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

8. Spain – Only people in love get and give presents.

9. Vietnam – Couples wear the same style and/or color of clothes.


10. Iran – May have rejected Western influences, but Valentine’s Day and all its accouterments have worked their way into the minds of the youth of the Islamic state’s affluent culture who want to have fun and romance. Giving cards, flowers, chocolates are just some of the ways the romantically-minded youth in Iran express their Love on February 14th, despite the disapproval of the authorities.

Image Source: Sepidedam & Persian Icons


Whether you personally celebrate or not, let us know how Valentine’s Day or its equivalent is celebrated in your country. Here’s wishing you a Happy Valentine’s day!


The Frustrated Evaluator


Filed under Creativity, Education, Gratitude, History, Human Interest, Travel

The Music of Language

January 5, 2012
by Jackie Parker


I had been asked to teach a writing workshop for a group of women and their teenage daughters who lived within blocks of each other in Alhambra California, a city of 80,000 eight miles from downtown Los Angeles. Alhambra is the birthplace of the painter Norman Rockwell whose scenes of everyday American life graced the covers of the Saturday Evening Post magazine for forty years. Many of these women were first generation Americans: Mexican, Filipino, Korean, who, by any standards had achieved a great deal. One had begun selling hotdogs at Dodger games. She now owned several properties, another was a nursing supervisor in a large hospital, another a social worker with a Master’s Degree in family counseling. They had worked and studied their way to impressive positions, bought homes, raised families, lived in a manner far exceeding their parents’ dreams for them.

But it seemed that they were having trouble getting along with their teenage daughters, and one of the women, who was enrolled in a workshop of mine, thought that by writing together they would find a way to create meaningful connections and a basis for understanding each other as women. The daughters, who had known each other since they were toddlers, had agreed to give it a try.

As I sat down in the comfortable living room and looked around at the fourteen of them—I was apprehensive and yet excited to see what would happen in the next two hours. The truth was I had no idea what I was going to ask them to write about, and no idea whether this group would end in disaster or triumph. I rarely prepare a topic before meeting a group, feeling out the needs of the people in the room by listening to what they write in the first exercise: a five minute free-writing that elicits results I still don’t understand after fifteen years of doing this work. People open up to aspects of themselves that are moving and deep and true, as if those truths are standing behind a door waiting to be invited into the room. But would teen-age girls risk writing their truths with their mothers right there? Would their mothers risk revealing themselves to their girls?

I had asked everyone to leave their phones and connective devices in another room and one of the girls said she felt really strange. Even stranger when we began simply by sitting in quiet together, breathing in silence for five minutes. A few of the girls laughed nervously. Some of them squirmed. I held the quiet like a cloak, spreading it out over the fidgets and giggles as they settled in. Sometimes just five minutes of silence in a room can shift moods and connect us to the inner life that we hunger for and often fear, but that we must work consciously to give to ourselves these days because so much that is rich waits for us there.

Just before the writing began one of the women asked if she could write in her native language. “Of course,” I said, off handedly. “Write in whatever language feels right for you.” She was the first person to read that day. “I know you won’t understand what I’m saying but I had to write this.” she began.

I had never heard Filipino spoken at such length. And no one but her daughter could follow the story. And yet, as she read, haltingly at first, and then musically, her words rising into a rhythm and meaning we could sense but not quite know, something happened to us all. I looked around the room and there were tears in the eyes of many of the women and girls. Simply hearing the language had moved us. Was it possible that we had gleaned their meaning as well? “Could you read it again?” everyone urged once she had finished. How beautiful was her first language. It was a privilege to listen, we all agreed. A privilege just to hear. Then she translated her story to us. “It’s a letter to my mother,” she said. “I’m apologizing to her. She had wanted me to become a doctor, but I failed. I failed her. All I was able to do was become a nurse. I have never spoken these words to anyone. I don’t even think I have ever really let myself feel them.”

Her daughter got up from her chair and embraced her. The tissues were passed around the room. We heard many deep and wise stories that day, in Spanish and Korean, in English, as well. It was a day of profound connection on many levels, far exceeding my goals for the group. It was a day that changed my teaching. Now wherever I go I remind people that they may write in any language they choose. And roomfuls of people are graced with the music of languages they might never have heard. And if not the language, then the stories that arise from the experiences that are held in the quintessential American experience: our immigrant selves. There are 92 languages spoken in the City of Los Angeles. One day, I want to have heard stories in them all.

Jackie Parker is a writer and teacher who conducts workshops nationwide.
She can be reached at jackie@jackie-parker.com

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Filed under Education, Language