Valentine’s Day is celebrated all over the world. But Valentine’s Day in Asia has its own unique customs. Some even celebrate it on different dates, and some have more than one Valentine’s Day over the year. So let’s quit the talking and let’s dive right into the first countriesI want to tell you about in this blog that celebrate Valentine’s Day in Asia.
The Chinese celebrate their version of Valentine’s Day, the Lovers Festival, on the 7th day of the 7th month of the lunar calendar (this year August 2nd). The reason why they don’t celebrate it on the 14th of February is because it’s too close to the Chinese New Year which usually is in January or February.
The Lovers Festival commemorates the legend of a cow herder and a weaving maiden who are only allowed to be together in this day.
The Saraswati Puja festival in West Bengali is often considered the Bengali version of Valentine’s Day. Saraswati is the goddess of learning, and the festival takes place every year on the fifth day of the Indian month Magh, the first day of spring. This year it was on February 4th.
Valentine’s Day started to become popular in India in the 1990’s. Peoplecame to know of it through programs in commercial TV channels like MTV, radio programs and love letter competitions. The celebration has caused a sharp change on how people have been displaying their affection in public since the Middle Ages.
Valentine’s Day was introduced in Japan in 1936. On February 14th women are expected to give out chocolate. There are different types of chocolate for them to give out:
Chocolate for co-workers – giri-choko (obligation chocolate)
Cheap Chocolate for unpopular co-workers – chō-giri choko (ultra-obligatory chocolate)
Chocolate for a loved one – honmei-choko (favorite chocolate)
Chocolate for friends – tomo-choko (friend chocolate)
March 14 is the “reply day”, where men are expected to return the favour to those who gave them chocolates on Valentine’s Day. This day is called “White Day” and only gifts that are white are given. Men are expected to spend more than 2 or 3 times the amount then the women did on their gifts. But they also
only have to give gifts to their loved one.
Not returning the gift is perceived as the man placing himself in a position of superiority, even if excuses are given. Returning a present of equal value is considered as a way to say that you are cutting the relationship.
In Japan the romantic “date night” associated with Valentine’s Day is celebrated on Christmas Eve. The Tanabata festival (Japanese version of Chinese Lovers Festival) has been celebrated for centuries, on July 7th.