Are you ready for Valentine’s Day? Have you bought for that special someone a perfect heart shaped gift, a box of special chocolates, heart shaped jewelry, a bouquet of flowers and a handwritten card espousing your eternal love December Global Holidays . Isn’t this what most women want and even secretly expect to receive from the man in their life? That seems to be the universal custom in Northern America.

Most countries around the world do celebrate love on a specific day or set of days, not always exactly on February 14th and often in different ways than the customs in Northern America. For example, In South Korea and Japan, the custom seems to be reversed. It is the women who give chocolate to the men on February 14. But the gift giving is reciprocal. The men give non-chocolate candies to the women on March 14, known as White Day. In Japan, women traditionally give chocolate to their co-workers on Valentine’s Day and it is known that many Japanese chocolate companies make about half their yearly income at this time.

It seems that Hindu and Islamic traditionalists in India as well as many Middle Eastern countries including Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, and Iran consider Valentine’s Day and the giving of these gifts as “cultural contamination from the West.” In these cultures they prohibit the public display and admission of love. In Israeli culture, there is a day marked as the festival of love, although it is at a different time during the year.

In most of Latin America, Valentine’s Day is known as a Day of Love and Friendship. In such countries as Mexico, Puerto Rico, Ecuador and Costa Rica, people show appreciation for their friends. And in many Latin American countries there is also a tradition of giving an anonymous gift to a “Secret Friend,” often one who is randomly chosen.

European countries also celebrate Valentine’s Day but with varying specific customs. For example, in Denmark and Norway, couples may share a romantic dinner; in Finland it is more a day of remembering friends; in Lithuania and Latvia, people often put stickers on the faces and clothing of a friend; and in most regions of the UK, Valentine’s Day is celebrated with flowers, chocolates and gifts just as in North America.

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