The month of love has arrived! Every year on Valentine’s Day (celebrated globally on the 14th of February), couples around the world shower each other with romantic dinners, red roses, delicious chocolates, teddy bears and even romantic trips away. Paris, known the world over as the city of love (and for good reason), has long been a firm favourite for those wanting to travel to celebrate love each February.
While we may not be able to visit Paris first-hand this Valentine’s day as travel restrictions and lockdowns continue around the world (where we’re all being responsible citizens to contain the spread of COVID-19) we spoke to the Air France team who sheds some light on some weird and wonderful ways love is celebrated around the world.
While it has become incredibly cheesy over the years, sealing your love through a padlock on a bridge is still an incredibly romantic gesture in France – especially on the famed Pont des Arts bridge that connects the Louvre and the Institut de France in Paris. Today, however, law enforcement officials have removed old locks and banned anyone from placing new locks on the bridge after the immense amount of strain the locks put on the infrastructure of the bridge. Valentine’s Day is a big deal in France because the French do love their romance so expect plenty of chocolates, roses, candle-lit dinners and cabaret shows around the country.
In the Eastern European country, the springtime and love go hand-in-hand which is why the 12th of March, the first day of spring, is an important day in the Slovenian calendar. The Slovenians believe that the birds get married on the 12th of March. Dubbed St. Gregory’s Day, people give heart-shaped honey cookies to their loved ones as they celebrate love and a new season.
China celebrates the Qixi Festival to celebrate their loved ones and it’s a tradition that dates back more than 2,000 years. The festival originated from an ancient folk tale called ‘The Weaver Girl and the Cowherd’. In the story, the weaver girl is a fairy who falls for a mortal. When her mother gets wind of their love, she separates them. However, she has allowed them to reunite once a year on the seventh day of the seventh month. To celebrate the day, women would speedily thread a needle under the moonlight to demonstrate dexterity in hopes of finding a good husband. Today, couples celebrate the festival by participating in kissing contests around the country.
On the 15th day of the Jewish month of Av, Israel celebrates Tu B’Av – a romantic day that dates back to biblical times. The day initially celebrated the start of the grape harvest where unmarried women would dress in white and dance in the vineyards hoping to attract a mate. In modern times, the day is known as a great day for weddings, commitment ceremonies, renewal of vows and even proposing and has become a significant day in the Jewish calendar.
Each year, the Finnish village of Sonkarjavi hosts the Wife-Carrying Championships. Every year, participants sling their wives or partners over their shoulders and compete in a series of events. The competition consists of a has two dry obstacles and one water obstacle which is about a metre deep and has the length of just 250m. The winner, who completed the track in the fastest time, receives his partner’s weight in beer. There are also prizes for the most entertaining couple, the best costume and the strongest carrier.
Italians have a variety of ways they celebrate love throughout the year but the most famous tradition is the Lovers in Camogli festival which takes place in the week leading up to Valentine’s Day, ending on the day itself. During the festival, lovers tie red hearts with the names of their loved one on fishing nets around the city, take part in poetry competitions, visit the Valentine’s market and take part in the famous plate painting competition. During the festival many of the local restaurants offer special dinner-for-two menu including a bottle of Champagne and special dish to mark the occasion.
Denmark has their own witty twist on Valentine’s Day. Citizens send witte love poems to their loved ones called gaekkebrev – which translates to ‘joking letter. These poems poke fun at the archaic practice. According to the custom, the sender signs the letter with dots instead of a name. If the recipient correctly guesses who the sender is, they receives an egg at Easter.