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Valentine’s of Travelers

Emma S., Writer

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On February 14th, nations around the world (well, most of them anyway) celebrate the season of love. Our own city, Worcester, led the charge of Valentine’s Day celebrations in the US. In 1847, Esther Howland began to mass produce the first lace cards that soon evolved into the sappy Hallmark cards coating CVS in a thin layer of paper every time February comes around. So, if you’re still bitter over your last significant other and Valentine’s Day depresses you, you can blame your very own city. Or you can go to Finland or Estonia where they celebrate Ystävän Päivä, or Friends Day, instead!

That, or get on a plane to South Korea in April because on the 14th, you and all your single friends can go out to eat jajangmyeon on Black Day. While enjoying your Korean white noodles in black bean sauce, you guys can decide your stance on the great South Korean controversy. Does Black Day mourn the single life or celebrate its freedom? It’s up to you!

However, the South Koreans, along with their Japanese neighbors, are not heartless at all. On February 14th, women give the men in their lives chocolates of all kinds, a custom that started in 1936 by chocolatier Morozoff. In the 1970s, however, a new form of chocolate-giving became customary. Women give four different types of chocolate depending on their relation with the receiver. Of course, the significant others get the most gourmet chocolate called honmei-choko, or chocolate for one’s favorite. Women give other important men giri-choko when their relationship is not romantic (or if they’re trying to keep an affair on the DL). Additionally, so no one is left out, women give the less important men in their lives cho-giri choko, or ultra-obligatory chocolate. But don’t worry ladies, a woman gives tomo-choko to her other women friends so everyone receives some chocolate on Valentine’s Day. Plus on March 14th, or White Day, men give their significant others gifts two to three times more valuable than those they received on Valentine’s Day.

In Denmark and Norway, it’s also up to the men to make the day. When the icy, northern winds blow February into Northern Europe, young men write Gaekkebrev, or little love letters, to their crushes. On Valentinsdag, the letters are sent, signed with nothing but a few dots corresponding to the number of letters in the man’s name. Then, amidst the day off from work and dinner parties, the women attempt to guess the sender. If they guess correctly, the sender must give them an egg on Easter. Apparently, the Norwegians and Denmarkians knew how to start a courtship.

However, for all you single women out their, it’s best to time travel back to 1700s England. There, on Valentine’s Day Eve, ladies would attach 5 bay leaves on the corners of their pillow. When they awoke on Valentine’s Day morning, the British young ladies knew they would marry the first man they saw. Or at least someone who looked like him! Young women would also eat eggs but replace the yolks with salt to improve their luck. However, salty eggs did not appeal to all, so on Valentine’s night, Jack Valentine would often visit children, leaving little gifts and chocolates.

And even if the prospect of Jack Valentine does not impress you, try taking a trip to Slovenia. Instead of celebrating human love, Slovenians use Valentine’s Day to remember love between birds. You could walk through the forest and fields and observe the birds beginning to ring in spring with their joyous chirps. Plus, to stay true to tradition, you could go barefoot in February and disregard all your mother’s warnings.

From our own little city to the farthest corners of the earth, people love to celebrate Valentine’s Day, whether it’s a dinner party with family or a romantic movie night with a significant other. And rightly so, as it truly is a wonderful holiday. So, if you are sitting on your living room couch, dreading Valentine’s Day, change it up a bit and try out a new tradition or two. Even if it’s a complete fail, you’ll be left with laughs for Valentine’s Days to come.

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Valentine’s of Travelers