Now here at GlobaLexicon, we’re not against love, or even the ‘hearts and roses’ celebration that Valentine’s Day has become, but we thought it might be interesting to look at some Valentine’s alternatives, including different ways of celebrating around the world and celebrations that focus on the non-loved-up as well.
So, if you’re not going to be sitting down to a candle-lit dinner, sharing spaghetti à la Lady and the Tramp, what are the alternatives out there?
Make it about your friends
Finland has a different slant on Valentine’s, where 14th of February is a day to celebrate your friends. Ystävänpäivä or ‘Friendship Day’, is a time to show appreciation for a different kind of loved one. Finns give cards and sometimes even gifts to their friends, to show their affection and appreciation.
While it’s still a bit of a niche celebration, some ladies have similarly embraced Galentine’s Day on 13th of February – a day to celebrate your female friends. Invented, bizarrely, in 2010 by a character in Parks and Recreation, it has spread out into (parts of) the real world and it’s even now possible to buy Galentine’s Day cards for your gal pals, at least in the UK.
South of the equator in Brazil, the love is spread on Dia dos Namorados or ‘Lovers' Day’, on 12th of June, being an opportunity to not only exchange cards, flowers and chocolates with husbands, wives and partners, but also to share with friends and relatives too. After all, partners may come and go, but true friends and family are for life.
Make it the new Black Friday
Singles’ Day in China was originally marketed as Bachelor’s Day, but thanks to being embraced (some might say co-opted) by Alibaba in the same way as Valentine’s Day has been encouraged and monetised by Hallmark, it’s now become the biggest shopping day in the world. It’s celebrated on 11th of November, because 1 looks like a stick and the Chinese word for bachelor, 光棍, literally means ‘one stick alone’.
This is also why Singles' Day in Chinese is called 'Single Sticks Holiday’, 光棍节. In 2018, total sales were $30.8 billion (an increase of 27% on 2017) dwarfing Black Friday and Cyber Monday combined, as everyone - not only the singles - gets in on the sales.
Make it reciprocal
Meanwhile in Japan, on Valentine’s Day women give chocolates in a strategic, codified fashion, with the type and cost of chocolate given depending on how much you like the recipient. The chocolate hierarchy ranges from honmei-choco or ‘true feeling’ chocolates, given to husbands and boyfriends – both current and future – to giri-choco, the cheaper ‘obligation’ chocolate offered to colleagues and acquaintances. But don’t worry about being left out if you’re not popular with your female colleagues, you too might still receive cho-giri-choco, or ‘ultra-obligation’ chocolates.
Then on 14th of March, White Day arrives, which is when all that investment in chocolate pays off. Recipients of ‘true feeling’ chocolate are expected to cough up for a present worth up to 3 times as much as the honmei-choco in return. Interestingly, experts were anticipating a contraction of White Day sales in 2018, as both men and women get tired of the obligatory nature of the Valentine’s Day-White Day traditions.
Make it about yourself
While Korea also celebrates Valentine’s day and White Day like in Japan, singles also have their own traditional day. On Black Day (not to be confused with Black Friday) on 14th of April, young people celebrate their singledom (or drown their sorrows) by tucking into a bowl of jajangmeyon, or black bean-paste noodles, with friends.
The US and UK also have their own days for single people, with National Singles Day taking place in the US on 22nd of September while in the UK it’s on 11th of March and Single Awareness Day/Single Appreciation Day takes place on 15th of February. These are days to celebrate both the good people that are single and the good parts of being single.
So whether you’re all loved-up in the honeymoon phase, been married for so long you don’t bother with Valentine’s anymore, (un)happily single, or just turned off by the commercial side of the day, here at GlobaLexicon, we hope you get to celebrate with whoever means the most to you, however you choose.