Happy Valentine’s Day!
- Happy Valentine’s Day!
It’s time to pick some flowers, make romantic plans – and maybe even declare your secret love for that special someone. Valentine’s Day might be the day love shines brightest in our neck of the woods, but it’s certainly not the only celebration of love in the world. Any extra days that spread the love are just fine by us. So here’s one for the lovers, wherever you may be: this is how love is celebrated around the world.
Love and Friendship Day takes place in September. It’s been rumoured that it was introduced in the late 60s to help stimulate the economy during the festival free month of September – supported by the fact that many people choose to celebrate the day on payday. But who are we to be so cynical on a day made for love?!
On the third Saturday of September, El Día del Amor y Amistad encourages a game of amigo secreto – which is basically the same as secret Santa. The name of a colleague or a friend gets picked out of a hat, and that person is responsible with buying them a gift.
It’s also a day for love – and not necessarily romantic love. Siblings, parents, children and spouses are all reminded that they’re loved with small tokens and gestures.
The Qixi Festival is celebrated on the seventh day of the seventh month in the Chinese lunar year – which usually drops it somewhere in August. The festival celebrates the ancient, beautiful tale of two stars in the sky: Vega and Altair. In the story, Altair is a cowherd and Vega a weaver. The two found each other, fell in love and had a family.
But these star crossed lovers were forbidden to be together. The weaver, a beautiful fairy, was not permitted to fraternise with mortals. And so, the Goddess of Heaven banished them to opposite sides of the Milky Way, forever. The old legend says that on the seventh day of the seventh month – the Night of Sevens – a flock of magpies form a bridge across the sky, letting the two lovers meet again, for one night each year. And on this night, their love is celebrated with the Qixi Festival.
The city of Barcelona is one of the most romantic in the world – it’s like the Paris of Spain. And on April 23rd every year, the people of Barcelona and their visitors will encounter pop-up book stalls and flower stalls all over the place – but why?
It’s World Book Day, of course – but it’s also St. Jordi Day (Saint George’s Day). And on this day, Barcelonian couples exchange gifts of books and roses to celebrate the Catalonian patron saint of lovers. St. Jordi even opens hearts at the government level – the Government Palace and galleries are open to all, and roses are sold for charity.
Every 14th of the month is a love related day in South Korea. In January, new journals are bought on Diary Day, to fill with special dates and anniversaries. Valentine’s Day arrives in February, with a twist – traditionally, women give men gifts. On March 14th, men enjoy giving gifts of their own. Black Day comes in April, when singles mope (or rather, celebrate their independence) with a big bowl of jjajangmyun – tasty black bean noodles.
On Yellow Day in May, couples dress in yellow and exchange roses – and singletons mope (or rather, revel in their freedom) once more with yellow curry. June 14th is Kiss Day, the smoochiest day of the year. July 14th is Silver Day, a time to exchange silver rings and discuss marriage plans. In August, it’s Green Day. Not to be confused with the band of the same name, couples drink a strong alcoholic drink called soju and take a stroll in the woods on this day.
On the 14th of September, it’s Photo Day/Music Day, when silly photos and karaoke are the order of business. October the 14th is Wine Day – you can guess what this day’s for. November contains Movie Day, when it’s time to snuggle down with a DVD. December completes the year-long cycle of love with Hug Day, wrapping the year up in a big warm embrace.
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