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Saint Valentine’s Day - Around the World

Sanya Andersen-Vie - Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Here at Colorado Ballet, diverse artistry is showcased whether it’s the dancers themselves, the choreography, the music, the plots of the productions, or the costumes, etc. Our company consists of 30 dancers with diverse backgrounds that come from all over the world. With St. Valentine’s Day just around the corner, we thought it would be fun to explore the different ways the holiday is celebrated around the globe, and to look at how this romantic holiday is viewed in some of the unique places that our own dancers are from!

In Japan, Valentine’s Day is celebrated on two different dates, the 14th of February and the 14th of March. On February 14, the women present a gift to the men, usually chocolate, and a month later on the second date known as White Day, the men return the gift. However, the men usually give the women white chocolate. Chocolate is by far the most popular gift in Japan and women tend to make the chocolate gifts by hand. Chocolates are given to male co-workers, bosses, friends, family members, etc. However, chocolates given to men whom women don’t feel romantic love for are called “giri-choco” (meaning obligation chocolate).

In Russia, Valentine’s Day is mostly celebrated the same way as in the U.S, including the giving of roses, romantic dinners with significant others, and exchanging of cards, however in some parts of the country the holiday has actually been banned or cancelled.

In Cuba, Valentine’s Day is known as Lover’s Day, a day of love and friendship. This holiday has also been chosen by many Cubans as a day of giving their sweethearts engagement rings; some have even used it for their wedding day. Lavish custom gifts, big get-togethers and parties, and local clubs/discothèques all decorated and lined up with crowds, are just a few highlights of Lover’s Day in this island country.

Canada, on the other hand, is essentially the exact same as the U.S when it comes to Valentine’s Day, a day where couples give a meaningful gift or spend a night out with their partner. Flowers, candy, romantic cards, jewelry, and lingerie, etc. are a few things that the men usually scramble to buy on the 14th of February.

France, dubbed one of the most romantic places in the world, celebrates Valentine’s Day because during the Middle Ages, the French believed that birds began to mate mid-February, therefore lovers started exchanging tokens of love on the 14th, the saint’s day.  To this day, romantics will visit the Indre village of St Valentin for the Valentine’s Day festival, where the whole village is covered in red flowers and couples can get married in the gazebo, after pinning love notes on the Tree of Vows.

In Ireland, you can visit the actual St. Valentine’s Shrine in Dublin on Valentine’s Day or on any other day. Similar to how the U.S celebrates this holiday; the couples in Ireland usually give each other small romantic gifts. However, the streets of Ireland are swept with lavish decorations and the region is illuminated with fireworks at dusk.

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