Read How 6 Countries Mark Valentine’s day: Korea, Japan, China, India, the Philippines and Thailand.
When England's King Henry VII officially declared February 14th the holiday of St. Valentine's Day in 1537, I bet he did not think it would be celebrated in so many countries around the world. Find out how this day is celebrated in Asia.
In Korea - If you do not receive any gift on Valentine's day then all the singles go to Korean restaurants and eat black noodles to mourn their single status.
In Japan - Women are expected to give chocolate and other gifts to men on Valentine's Day. This tradition was started as a marketing campaign by Japanese chocolate companies. This has become for many women – especially those who work in offices – an obligation, and they give chocolates to all their male co-workers (especially the boss), sometimes at significant personal expense. This chocolate is known as giri-choco, which translates as "chocolate of obligation."
Men are not off the hook, unfortunately. They are expected to return the favor on March 14th, commonly known as White Day. Many men, however, give only to their girlfriends. The gift should be white (hence the name) and is often lingerie.
In China - Valentine's Day is also celebrated in China, as is the related Daughter's Festival. It is held on the 7th month and 7th day of the lunar calendar and celebrates a love story between the seventh daughter of the Emperor of Heaven and an orphaned cowherd, who were sent to separate stars and only allowed to see each other on this one day each year.
Some tips include:
- Do not give an umbrella or fan in Chinese Valentine’s day - Umbrella or Fan both sound like the one Chinese character “散”, which means leave, separation.
- Do not share a pear - If you are going to eat pear with your Chinese lover. Remember to eat your own, instead share the same one with him or her. “Share pear” sound like “分离“ in Chinese. It’s also means leaving someone.
- Do not give a wind chime - “Wind Chimes” are also homophonic of ”separation”.
- Do not give the green hat to Chinese men - A man with a green hat means a man with a spouse who’s unfaithful to him.
- Do not give shoes to your lover - It means you want the person you in the relationship with to walk away or the relationship is going to ends soon. If you want your girl to dress up go out with you in your Chinese Valentine’s day, and you already brought her a sexy high heal. They way to solve the problem is to let her pay you a coin for the shoes.
- Do not give handkerchief to your Taiwanness lover - To some Taiwanness, “送巾，断(离)根”. Give handkerchief to someone means leave someone forever.
In India - The most fantastic gift of love is the Taj Mahal in India. It was built by Mughal Emperor Shahjahan as a memorial to his wife, who died in childbirth. Work on the Taj began in 1634 and continued for almost 22 years and required the labor of 20,000 workers from all over India and Central Asia.
In the Philippines - In 2011, a party-list group in the Philippines gave out free condoms on Valentine's Day as part of an effort to inform people on reproductive rights and secure support for the passage of the Reproductive Health Bill.
In Thailand - On February 14, 2001, 34 couples from 22 countries exchanged wedding vows ten meters underwater near Kradan Island in Southern Thailand. This currently holds the Guinness World Record for the most number of couples married simultaneously underwater.
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- Weird Things You Didn't Know About Valentine's Day http://www.wisebread.com/weird-things-you-didnt-know-about-valentines-day (accessed on 12 February 2013)
Dr Martha Lee is Founder and Clinical Sexologist of Eros Coaching in Singapore. She is a certified sexuality educator with AASECT (American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors, and Therapists), as well as certified sexologist with ACS (American College of Sexologists). She holds a Doctorate in Human Sexuality from Institute for Advanced Study of Human Sexuality as well as certificates in practical counselling, life coaching and sex therapy. She is available to provide sexuality and intimacy coaching for individuals and couples, conduct sexual education workshops and speak at public events in Asia and beyond. For more, visit www.ErosCoaching.com.