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Not every country celebrates Saint Valentine on the 14th February. In Wales they instead celebrate Saint Dwynwen on the 25th January. Exactly one month after Christmas Day, the Welsh come together to celebrate their patron saint of love by giving gifts of carved wooden spoons! These beautiful and intricate objects have been dated back as far as the 17th century and are traditionally given by men. They carve various symbols into the wooden spoon to represent luck, happiness and love.
In Denmark the flower they exchange to symbolise love isn’t a rose, but a pressed snowdrop. The Danes are relatively new to Valentine’s Day, only celebrating it since the early 1990s, but since then this national day has really grown into something unique. In fact, they’ve even put their own spin on the giving of Valentine’s cards. Instead of giving romantic cards, men give women a gaekkebrev or ‘joking letter’. This is given on intricately cut paper and contains a funny poem or rhyme, signed by a series of dots. The idea is that if the recipient can guess the sender’s identity, she will be given an Easter egg later in the year!
Valentine’s Day in South Korea isn’t just one day. There are three separate dates spread across three months that are in connection to Valentine’s Day, and each one has a different tradition attached. This slightly more complicated series of celebrations has been fully adopted by young couples in South Korea. On the 14th February the tradition states that women must impress their other halves by giving them chocolates, sweets and flowers. Then on the 14th March, called White Day, it’s the turn of the men to do the same, but to also give a gift. But, for those who aren’t celebrating this festival of love, their day comes on the 14th April which is called Black Day. On this day it falls to singles to mourn their loneliness by eating bowls of black-paste noodles called jajangmyeon. Pretty depressing!
If you’re single in Finland on Valentine’s Day, then you’ve got nothing to worry about. In this country, the Finnish celebrate friendship on February 14th, not just the love between couples. This wonderfully inclusive tradition still has a lot of similarities to the Valentine’s Day we know in the UK, with the exchanging of gifts and cards, but it means that no one has to feel left out! The people of Finland have a reputation for being a very reserved nation, and this is reflected in the way they celebrate Valentine’s Day. Even though it is recognised, none of the gifts or cards have hearts on them. Instead, they’re focused on celebrating the strength of friendship and the support network they have around them.