Valentine’s Day goes global and so much news about it!

It’s fascinating to see how certain holidays spread around the world, and how they are marked, celebrated, and “localized” in different countries and regions and among different groups. Valentine’s Day is clearly going global, but with many regional and local permutations. Some of those variations have to do with the very fact that Valentine’s Day is associated with love and romance and, let’s face it, sex. Here are some news bits about Valentine’s Day 2014 around the world.

Cupid. Flickr/Arwen Willemsen

Just wanting somebody to love:

In France, Internet dating rises before Valentine’s Day. According to an article in The Global Times, “The Internet is powering Cupid’s wings in France, with use of online dating sites soaring, according to matchmakers preparing to help singletons maximize their seduction opportunities this Valentine’s Day. Of the 18 million single people in France “one in two uses Internet dating,” said Jessica Delpirou, director in France of the Meetic dating website, which was launched in 2001 and recently taken over by the US website The run-up to St Valentine’s Day — before New Year resolutions are forgotten — is a particularly busy time. “

What’s Valentine’s Day all about?

Many media sources carried pieces on the history of Valentine’s Day. For example, for the many people in India who are celebrating Valentine’s Day but have no idea about its origins, an article in The Times of India talked about a special TV show explaining the origins of Valentine’s Day.

The economic impact of Valentine’s Day

The economic impact of Valentine’s Day around the world is huge. It includes gifts, clothing, dining out, destination travel, and more. In all, it is a massive consumption event and consumption lead-up. Flowers and chocolates are major gift items. One article about how the price of roses shot up in advance of Valentine’s Day in India.

Rose. Flickr/aling_

In San Francisco, Calif., reports indicate flower price gouging. A rose costs twice as much this week as it did last week.

On the international level, a flower trade blockade between Bulgaria and Turkey is preventing the delivery of millions of Valentine’s Day flowers destined for Europe, threatening the availability and price of flowers for Europeans celebrating the romantic holiday. Uh oh, could be tons of hopeful lovers in trouble!

A local variation: In Scotland, sales of mussels were expected to double in in the run-up to Valentine’s Day with the tasty shellfish having become indelibly associated with romance in recent years. The Scottish Shellfish Marketing Group (SSMG) has noticed a doubling in sales of mussels during the week prior to Valentine’s Day, providing a welcome boost to Scotland’s hardworking mussel farmers.

In Hong Kong, due to the coincidence of the Chinese Lantern Festival with Valentine’s Day this year, and the surge in couples wanting to get married on February 14, wedding expenses have surged. Over 40 percent of the young couples need funding from their parents to get married, and another 27 percent have to borrow money for the wedding.

Giving a Valentine’s card is as old as …. Hallmark. Yet, Hallmark has only two options for gay people. A blogger writes on this topic: “This year, Hallmark offers two cards in our in-store Valentine’s Day selection that are specifically created for same-sex relationships — titled ‘Love: Man to Man’ and ‘Love: Woman to Woman’ — and they are labeled that way in the display,” the company’s publicist, Kristi Ersting, wrote to me last week. “There are other relevant Valentine’s Day cards that would be appropriate for same-sex relationships as well as other romantic relationships. They would be found in the display under titles like ‘Love for Him / Her,’ ‘Man / Woman I Love’ and ‘For My Partner.’”

More on the gift: What to give and who gives to whom?

Some famous TV actresses in India say what women really want on Valentine’s Day.

In Ireland, the best and worst gifts are revealed through a survey. The least appealing gifts women have ever received for Valentine’s Day are a wok, an electric mixer, and chocolates long past their expiry date. On the other hand, dinner and drinks or a gift card to spend in their favorite store proved to be winners.

Gift giving: Try the Japanese way

Japan Valentine's Day
Japanese Valentine's Day "giri choko" ("duty chocolate"). Flickr/ORAZ Studio

In Japan, February 14 is traditionally a day for women to give presents to men — not just their partners, but also often fellow students, coworkers, family members or other hangers-on (such gifts are termed giri-choko, or “obligation chocolates”). A month later, the gift-receivers are expected to repay in kind, on what’s known as White Day, a festival that was instituted by the National Confectionary Industry Association in 1978.

What to wear on Valentine’s Day?

The answer, for women at least, is red. Red is the color of love: According to an article in The Daily Mail of Zambia, you will see more women wearing red on Valentine’s Day than on any other day.

In Oman, recommendations for women wearing red cover her from head to toe: “As we inch closer to Valentine’s Day, a large number of women sport red outfits as it is the colour of love. Try ruby jewellery with little black dress or red high heels with monochrome apparel to stand out, says an expert.

  • Red jewellery: Opt for some sparkly ruby jewellery — drop earrings, a cocktail ring or cuff — with your little black dress. These red gems will spruce up your look.
  • Red stilettos: If you want to follow the season’s monochrome trend, pair some red stilettos with your black and white ensemble.
  • Red pants: Wear a pair of red pants that fit you well. Pair them with a neutral tube top, leaving your shoulders bare. Add a chunky neck piece and ballet flats to that look.
  • Red maxi dress: Bold ones can slip into a red maxi dress. Neutral stilettos with minimal to no accessories at all, will complete the look.
  • Red accessories: A red clutch or belt is also a good option.”

To celebrate or not? Yes you can

In Kenya, condoms are promoted along with celebration of Valentine’s Day. In recognition of the International Condom Day on February 13, an informal annual celebration of safer sex was held in conjunction with Valentine’s Day, National AIDS Control Council (NACC) and National AIDS and STI Control Programme (NASCOP). One million condoms have been distributed to the public. Dr. Sobbie Mulindi Deputy Director NACC said the event which was happening in Kenya for the first time will now be celebrated every year with the goal to realize the dream of zero new HIV infections in the country.

Valentine’s Day will be celebrated in Egypt, at least in Cairo. Through a Facebook page he created, Peter Magdi sent out a public invitation for dancing in one of central Cairo’s squares on the evening of February 14th, the day on which many countries celebrate Valentine’s Day. Magdi, who is a journalist at a local newspaper, said the idea came to him after he and his friend Mohammed al-Shammaa danced all night long at a recent wedding ceremony. “The next day, my friends and I felt peace of mind and we noticed that dancing released a lot of suppressed energy we had so Mohammed and I decided to issue a public invitation to young people to dance at Abdeen Square in central Cairo,” he told Al-Shorfa.

No you can’t

In Pakistan, there have been warnings to media against promoting Valentine’s Day. According to an article in The Washington Post, Valentine’s Day is a source of controversy this week in Pakistan, where Islamists have staged protests against the holiday and regulators have asked media to “honor viewers’ sentiments” and official media codes in restraining any holiday-themed programs. On Wednesday, Pakistan’s Electronic Media Regulatory Authority, or PEMRA, sent a letter to TV and radio stations reminding them that the holiday is “not in conformity to our religious and cultural ethos.” The letter warns that “a large segment of society” has complained about “Valentine’s Day celebrations” and blames Valentine’s Day for “depraving, corrupting and injuring morality of Pakistani youth.”

In Indonesia, threre have also been warnings from Muslim groups: the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) in Dumai, Riau, and the Education, Youth and Sport Agency in Mataram, West Nusa Tenggara, have warned against celebrating the day of affection. “An MUI judgment states that celebrating Valentine’s Day is against Islam,” head of the Dumai MUI Lukman Syarif told to Antara on Thursday.

Officials in the Kyrgyzstani city of Osh have banned Valentine’s Day celebrations in local schools. “This holiday has never been celebrated in Kyrgyzstan’s history,” the city’s education department head Kushtarbek Kimsanov was quoted as saying by the news agency. “The holiday of love is a bad influence on children’s morality.”

Overall, five countries have officially banned Valentine’s Day as well as some schools in Florida, U.S. The five countries are Malaysia, Iran, Russia, Saudia Arabia, and Indonesia. In Florida, the principal of Lake Nona High School has banned public celebration of the holiday. Any student who walks into school with balloons, teddy bears or flowers will be forced to surrender them in the principal’s office. All deliveries of gifts will be rejected. Other high schools in the area have followed suit in enforcing the ban.

For those who celebrate but missed the date…

Not to worry, other global options exist! In Brazil, Valentine’s Day isn’t celebrated in February but instead it celebrates Dia dos Namorados on June 12. Brazil’s celebration honors Saint Anthony, who is the patron saint of matchmaking, and marriages.

In Greece, July 3 is devoted to Saint Valentine in the Greek Orthodox calendar, the name day of Saint Hyacinth. Another back-up date is February 13, the name day of Saint Akyllas and Priskilla, who were “put in charge” during the 80s’ by the Greek Orthodox Church to protect Orthodox couples and lovers.

A Valentine’s Day flowchart

If you are now totally confused about what to do, when, and with what kind of gift, check out this flow chart to guide people through Valentine’s Day in Mongolia — it may work for people outside Mongolia as well. If not, adjust it, make your own culturally effective flow chart and share it on anthropologyworks!

Blogger’s note: Every day should be a day of love and respect for our fellow humans, animals, plants, and the earth! Happy Everyday of Love and Respect!

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