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What's a 'Gaekkebrev?' Valentine's Day Traditions from Around the World

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Ah, Valentine’s Day. An annual scam/celebration of love and cards and chocolate and dinner at White Castle.

But it’s not like that everywhere! No, in some other countries, it’s about poetry! It’s about friendship! It’s about spoons! Okay, okay, hang on, we’re getting ahead of ourselves. Here now are some of the ways Valentine’s Day differs around the world.

Denmark & Norway

Denmark and Norway imported Valentine’s Day very recently, but quickly put their own unique twist on the holiday: Poetry! Men send women “gaekkebrev,” which are poems or rhyming love notes, anonymously. Cute, right? This is where it gets complicated: The only clue women are given to the sender’s identity is a series of dots, one for each letter in the sender’s name. If they guess correctly, they win an egg. On Easter. If they guess incorrectly, they owe the sender an egg. Makes sense.

Saudi Arabia

Oh, they don’t have it. They banned it in 2008. The law also banned the color red. And roses. Womp womp.

Finland

In Finland and Estonia, Feb. 14 is more about celebrating friendship than romantic love. In Finland, it’s called Ystävänpäivä!

Wales

The Welsh St. Valentine’s Day is actually called St. Dwynwen’s Day, and it takes place on Jan. 25. People exchange spoons, though it’s kind of unclear why … it might have something to do with sailors? It does date back quite some time – the earliest dated “love spoon” is from Wales and was carved in 1667.

Japan

In Japan, it’s tradition for women to give men chocolates instead of the other way around. Eventually, something called “White Day” was established on March 14, a day when men repay the favor, albeit with white chocolate. (Get it?)

The Philippines

They have mass weddings. 4,000 couples got married at once in 2013; 700 in 2015. It’s unclear if the roots of this are an economic thing – the one in 2015 was organized by a government agency and paid for by the local government for underprivileged couples – or if people in the Philippines just like large-scale demonstrations, like that “Thriller” dance in prison.

South Korea

12 Romantic Korean Couple’s Holidays to Celebrate

By Koreaboo

Couples rejoice as the 14th of every month marks a romantic holiday in South Korean culture. While you’ve probably heard of the few well known celebrations, others may be new to you.

  • January 14th: Diary Day

    By Koreaboo

    On January 14th, it’s customary for friends and couples alike to exchange blank diaries, where the special occasions to come throughout the year are recorded.

  • February 14th: Valentine’s Day

    By Koreaboo

    While the Korean Valentine’s Day is more or less the same as its Western counterpart in terms of romancing and date ideas, a key difference is that only women are to give out gifts on this day.

  • March 14th: White Day

    By Koreaboo

    Following the Valentine’s Day happenings, men are to return the gifting favour on March 14th, as White Day is their time to sweep the ladies off their feet.

  • April 14th: Black Day

    By Koreaboo

    If you’re not in a relationship, there’s even a Korean holiday to celebrate your loner status, where groups of single people join together to eat jajangmyeon, with hopes of meeting their better half.

  • May 14th: Rose Day

    By Koreaboo

    Otherwise known as Yellow Day, May 14th marks the exchange of roses amongst couples dressed in yellow.

  • June 14th: Kiss Day

    By Koreaboo

    As if the name didn’t explain the activities to ensue well enough already, various Korean companies will give you a not so subtle reminder by pushing out kiss enhancing products prior to June 14th.

  • July 14th: Silver Day

    By Koreaboo

    On Silver Day, couples exchange silver accessories, where a set of silver rings act as the ultimate symbol of a deep relationship and possible future plans together.

  • August 14th: Green Day

    By Koreaboo

    Green Day has all the makings of a perfect date idea as couples are to enjoy a day out in nature whilst drinking soju, the alcoholic beverage of choice in South Korea.

  • September 14th: Photo Day

    By Koreaboo

    While taking photos with one another (whether via photo booth or professional studio) is a regular occurrence, September 14’s Photo Day gives couples an official reason to do so.

  • October 14th: Wine Day

    By Koreaboo

    Similar to Kiss Day where the name pretty much explains the day’s agenda, couples will share a glass (or bottle) of wine with one another in celebration of their relationship.

  • November 14th: Movie Day

    By Koreaboo

    If there was one day to hit the theatres early on, then that would be Movie Day. On this day, couples will go on a movie date together, and needless to say, theatres are bound to be packed.

  • December 14th: Hug Day

    By Koreaboo

    Hug Day is the last couple’s holiday of the year, where individuals give their significant others a warming hug amidst increasingly colder temperatures.

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The 14th of every month is dedicated to celebrating love in South Korea. January is Diary Day, when couples give each other blank diary pages; April 14 is Black Day, when single people get together to eat black noodles in the hopes of meeting someone; August 14 is Green Day, when you drink soju out in nature. South Korea: serious about StarCraft and love.