By LeAnn Nguyen
February 5, 2018
With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, we’re already beginning to see store shelves fill with items like cards, chocolates, and teddy bears. A quick glance at these displays gives us a pretty good idea of one way we show love in our culture: sharing gifts, especially those that are red and decorated with hearts, with our loved ones.
As familiar as they may seem to us, our ways of showing love in the U.S. would likely seem foreign to other cultures around the world. Similarly, some of the ways that other cultures show love may seem very odd. Here are five different ways of showing love around the world that you might try out during Valentine’s Day this year.
You may have heard of this practice of rubbing noses among certain Inuit groups of northern Canada, Greenland, and Alaska. Although it’s sometimes referred to as a “kiss,” it’s actually not a substitute for the more familiar gesture of affection—Inuits also kiss just as we do. Kunik is just an additional way that they show love, especially between family members.
Fijian whale’s teeth
Valentine’s Day does get a lot of people thinking about popping the big question. In Fiji, proposing can be quite an endeavor. Fijians traditionally have to find or buy whale’s teeth (known as “tabuas”) to present to their loved one’s family before they can ask their beloved’s hand in marriage. The teeth are given in multiples, with each one typically costing upwards of $1000, making a proposal quite the financial investment. Just think of what people in past had to do…
Korean Pepero Day
On November 11 of each year, South Koreans celebrate Pepero Day, a holiday of love distinct from Valentine’s Day. On Pepero Day, Koreans also give their loved ones something as a symbol of love, but rather than cards or chocolates, it’s a particular type of snack: chocolate-covered cookie sticks known as Pepero. They’re similar to the Japanese snack Pocky and, like Pocky, you can find Pepero at local Asian supermarkets to give to your family, friends, and crushes.
Zulu love letters
“Love letters” is another misleading name for this gift of love given by the Zulu people of southern Africa. It’s not actually a written note, but rather a colorful beaded necklace given by women to men that they love. The colors of the beads are actually meant to send a message to the recipients, so these necklaces are actually quite similar to letters in their need to be interpreted.
Welsh St. Dwynwen’s Day
Wales also has its own holiday devoted to love: St. Dwynwen’s Day, celebrated on January 25. Named after a Welsh princess and patron saint of lovers, this day is similar to Valentine’s Day in how it involves the exchange of gifts between lovers. However, one of these gifts is unique to Wales: the hand-carved, symbol-decorated lovespoons that lovers make for each other. Few things say true love quite like some handicrafts.