Get inspired this Valentine's Day. Discover these unusual romantic traditions from around the world.
1. Japan: White Day
If you were to watch Valentine’s Day shoppers in Japan, you would be forgiven for thinking that the male population were either extremely forgetful or lucky. Only women are expected to give affection gifts of chocolate on February 14th. However guys — you don’t get off the hook that easily. Exactly one month later is the traditional White Day, where men are expected to reciprocate the gifts they have received with something white. This is generally white chocolate, marshmallows or jewellery.
2. China: The Dai “Visiting Girls”
The Dai people of Southern Yunnan China practice a courtship ritual that seems to come right out of a fable. Known as “Visiting Girls”, the ritual involves a group of young women who sit around a bonfire, each with her own spinning wheel. As the women spin their threads, a group of men clothed in red quilts approach softly. They must attempt to win over their favourite girl by playing their choice of musical instrument.
If one of the girls takes a liking to one of the men, she will invite him to sit down on a stool she places beside her. Her new beau (if he reciprocates) will throw the red quilt around her shoulders and the courtship begins.
3. Mexico: Whistled Wooing
For decades, whistling has played an integral part in the courtship of the Tribu Kikapú Natives of Coahuila, Mexico. If you are thinking this is something like wolf whistling, nothing could be further from the truth. Rather, a man of the tribe will develop a highly elaborate whistling code with his potential partner. If he wants to arrange a date, he will wait for dusk and then pipe out the distinctive serenade. If the girl completes the code, a romantic evening is on the cards.
Before 1915, this almost bird like ritual was performed by flutes that the men of the village would create themselves.
4. Wales: Lovespoons
The Welsh tradition of gifting a beautifully hand-carved wooden spoon to a would-be date goes back to the 18th century. Though the origins of the practice are not clear, it has been suggested that it may come from returned sailors, who whittled down and carved whalebones to give as gifts.
Today, lovespoons (which generally feature beautiful looping and heart-shaped patterns) are still exchanged frequently in Wales. So instead of going for the timeworn box of chocolates or a bunch of plastic flowers, why not go for a lovespoon instead?
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