Celebrate these international alternatives to Valentine’s Day

Sofia Rada, Blogger

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It is ironic that a holiday about love often brings hate to mind instead. Maybe we’re single and bitter. Maybe one time we got a card from some kid we didn’t really know that said, “I love to watch you from afar.” Maybe we’re not into PDA.

Perhaps we have not been celebrating it right. Fear not, traditions from around the world can save the day.


Who says Valentine’s Day has to be about men spoiling women? Apparently, not the Japanese. In this country, women do the gift giving. Chocolate-giving, specifically. Different types of chocolates signify different relationships. Giri-choko is given to men without any romantic interest (think bosses, colleagues, classmates). Cho-giri choko is given to men the women don’t particularly like but feel obligated to give something to so they don’t feel left out (like that guy in your friend group you don’t actually like but is best friends with your friend). Finally, honmei-choko is gifted to boyfriends, lovers or husbands. Girls can also give tomo-choko to female friends. Men have to return the favor on March 14, “White Day,” when they give gifts two or three times more valuable than the ones they received. Sounds like a good return on the women’s investment. The gift doesn’t have to be chocolate, either. Lingerie, jewelry and clothing are also more than OK.


Mexico doesn’t think the holiday is all about romance, either. There, Valentine’s Day is known as “El Dia del Amor y la Amistad,” which means “The Day of Love and Friendship.” Maybe you should stop contemplating whether it’s too risky to acknowledge the holiday with that girl you’ve been hooking up with and talking to, but don’t quite want to date. Forget that and go out with your friends instead. Surprise your roommate by leaving chocolates on her bed. Or draw the names of friends from a hat and give them presents, Secret Santa style. In Mexico, that’s called “Amigo Secreto.”


Maybe love just isn’t in the air when we’re at single-digit weather. You could always wait for June 12. That’s when Brazil celebrates “Dia dos Namorados,” or “the day of boyfriends/girlfriends.” The date is on the eve of the day of St. Anthony, patron saint of marriage. If by some twist of fate you aren’t seeing someone right now but have found yourself a potential life-partner by the end of the school year, this may be the holiday for you.


June 12 may still be too soon for your needs. That’s fine, because the Chinese equivalent to the holiday of love isn’t until the seventh day of the seventh month of the lunar year — hence the title Qixi (double seven). For us on the Roman calendar, that’s Aug. 2 this year. There is a legend behind why this festival is celebrated. Essentially, it is the only day when two forbidden lovers, Niu Lang and Zhi Nu, are allowed to see each other. Magpies form a bridge for them to reach each other. Maybe in between midterms and layers of North Face, you haven’t found love. But if you find it this summer, sit out with them and look out for the bridge of lights in the mid-summer night sky.

Email: sofiarada@u.northwestern.edu