Valentine’s Day and love around the world

By Anaïs Engler, Daily Egyptian

The color red, heart shaped candies, chocolates, cards, balloons and more may overwhelm one who enters stores these days, indicating something big will happen soon.

Saturday is Valentine’s Day, or the international day of love. It is the day you show your feelings, do something special or possibly fall in love.

Stores like Wal-Mart are obviously telling you to buy these items in order to make your 2015 Valentine’s Day a success, but that is not the way everyone celebrates.

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American, Japanese, European and Brazilian men and women for example, all celebrate the holiday differently.

Saori Ueda, a junior from Nagoya, Japan, studying biology, said in her country, Valentine’s Day is a chance for girls to give boys gifts.

“It is a chance to say your feelings, to be brave and start something with the guy you like,” she said. “But that was mostly in high school. Now, it is more a couple event, but still, the girl is in charge of that day.”

Ueda said girls usually cook chocolate cookies and bring them to school to share with their boyfriends, secret loved ones or friends. She said the sweets are meant to be homemade, and the day is a change of pace from the norm.

“I like it, and you have the chance to cook by yourself,” she said. “And it is not cheesy. … For me it is a funny event.”

The holiday can have more meaning if you are in relationship, of course, but it depends on the couple.

“Every couple celebrates it,” she said. “If I have a boyfriend I will do something.”

Noritsugu Kitagawa, a junior from Nagoya, Japan, studying geology, said Valentine’s Day is typically a children’s holiday. He said the boys would compete for the most cookies in high school.

“But it would have to be ‘love cookie,’ not a ‘friendship cookie,’” he said. “If you get a ‘love cookie,’ it is a sign the girl is waiting for you to say your feelings.”

Kitagawa said boys would have to approach girls first, but today, as a 20-year-old, he does not wait for Valentine’s Day to admit his feelings.

He said the boys’ duties are not finished once the holiday passes. Kitagawa said on March 14, they have to gift something in return, on what is known as “White Day.”  

“It is a lot of pressure,” he said. “We need to gift something better.”

Kitagawa said last year he asked his girlfriend to make a layered almond cake, known as opera cake.

“It was kind of a joke, because I knew it was super difficult to make,” he said. “But she made it for me, I think she spent an entire day for it.”

If Valentine’s Day in Japan looks less “full of love” than in the U.S. it could be because the most important couples’ event of the year is Christmas. Kitagawa said Dec. 24 is when boys surprise girls with a nice dinner or a short romantic trip.

In other places across the globe, Valentine’s Day falls within a warmer month.

Bruno Barros, a second-year student from Recife, Brazil, studying medicine, said Valentine’s Day is on June 12, and is a commercial holiday like in the U.S.

“How you celebrate it depends on your relationship,” he said. “If your relationship is solid, it is a good pretext to turn this simple occasion into a special one.”

Barros said it can be a special event for Brazilian couples—bringing the girl to a surprise restaurant, or having a nice dinner with flowers, chocolates and wine.

“I like the concept of the event. It is a chance to gift something that I made by myself,” he said. “I prefer symbolic gifts on that day, something that has an emotional value rather than a high price.”

Barros said in his city, the day is known as a joke for those who are single.

“It is also the Day of the Trees on June 12, so if you are single, you hug a tree,” he said.

In Europe, where Valentine’s Day originated, people consider it the day of the lovers, only to be spent with a boyfriend, girlfriend, wife or husband.

Nadja Strekalova, a senior from Kalmar, Sweden, studying marketing, said the holiday is less commercialized in her country than in the U.S.

“We just have some stuff in the store but 10 times less than in America,” she said. “And you really celebrate the way you want it, no rules. It can be a fancy dinner as well as a cozy movie night.”

Strekalova said the tradition is paired with mixed feelings.

“This event puts a lot of pressure on single people,” she said. “I feel it is very commercial but still, I like the idea of a specific day to celebrate love.”

From the friendly day of love in Japan, to a restrictive day just for couples in Europe, Feb. 14 is the day of love all over the world.

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