The romantic tradition of St. Valentine’s Day was set centuries ago. The ancient Romans celebrated ‘The Day of Love’ on 14th February, praying to the Goddess of marriage and motherhood Junona. Unmarried girls wrote letters and put it in a deep box and the man who brought it out became her husband.
In Japan and South Korea St. Valentine’s Day dates back to the 1930s. In Japan, only men receive gifts on that day and the holiday for women is on 14th March, named ‘The White Day’. In contrast to Japan, in Korea men celebrate the ‘The Black Day’ on which they gather together and drink alcohol.
Denmark has a different tradition – on 14th February the men give a present of dry white flowers to their loved ones.
Germans associate the day with insanity and consider St. Valentine the protector of mad people – which is why they decorate hospitals for mental diseases on Valentine’s Day.
It is strictly forbidden for red roses, toys, and candy in the shape of a heart to be sold.
The English send love letters not only to their friends and acquaintances but also to their pets. Single women throw pieces of paper in the river. On each piece it is written a man’s name. The first sheet which comes to surface prompts the name of the future bridegroom.
In Wales ‘wooden love spoons’ are made. Hearts, keys and locks are among the most common decorations. The implication is: ‘Unlock your heart for me!’
There is a festival on St. Valentine’s Day in Scotland. The tradition is similar to the one that the English have. Single men and women write their names on pieces of paper and later on, the lot combines them and makes couples.
In the US ‘The Day of Love’ was initially celebrated by the Europeans who settled there in the 17th century. At first, the Americans sent marzipan to their fiancées. (The marzipan actually cost a small fortune at that time.)
During the Gold Rush in Australia there was a custom according to which if someone finds gold on the 14th February, they should pay the ‘valentines’ of all single men in the mine. (Of course, the men asked for amazing post-cards with golden letters, satin, silk and whatever came to their minds!)
The tradition includes kneading dough and boiling a chicken (often filled with rice). With a bag containing a piece of the flat cake, the chicken and wine, men go to the vineyards. This ritual which takes place in the vineyards is called ‘zaryazvane’. Every man cuts three twigs. After that, they pour the wine they brought on the ground. (Such a waste, don’t you think)
The traditional Bulgarian table includes a flat cake, a chicken filled with rice and other traditional dishes.