7 Ways That Diverse Cultures Show Love

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In the U.S., Valentine's Day is often celebrated with boxes of chocolate, bouquets of flowers, and an exchange of heartfelt messages on store-bought cards. But shows of love and affection look different in other parts of the world. For example, South Korea has a day dedicated to love every month. If you’re looking for a new way to share your love with someone special, take notes from other cultures around the world. Who knows, maybe you’ll find a new tradition or two to try out with your boo this Valentine’s Day.


1In Japan, Bento Boxes Can Symbolize Love and Care

Bento boxes have become a trendy way to pack lunch in parts of the Western world, but in Japan, the contents of these organized lunch boxes hold a deeper meaning. According to Savvy Tokyo writer Natsuko Mazany, “Parents, husbands and wives make their obento with love and care, which can be seen through the attention to detail and healthiness of the box.” She goes on to write about how the more intricate the design and detail of the foods inside — cartoon characters, smiley faces, and more — the deeper the affection the bento chef has for its recipient. The next time you want your loved one to know you care about what they eat, say it with a bento box!

2In Germany, Marzipan Pigs Are Gifted as Good Luck Tokens

Miss Piggy knows a thing or two about wooing Kermit the Frog, and he’d do well in Germany where pigs represent good luck. When Reddit user LaFauci asked about lucky charms to give as gifts after a first date with a German, many replied that the best treat was a marzipan pig. Other sweet tokens include four leaf clovers, lady bugs, and gold coins.

3For Some Native Americans, a Blanket Ceremony Can Signify a Lasting Union

In many Native American cultures, weddings include a special blanket ceremony. The specifics of the ceremony differs from tribe to tribe, but generally includes each partner wrapped in a blue blanket. Then, the couple is wrapped in one larger white blanket to symbolize their union. Photographer Elizabeth Haydin and her husband, who is Native American, says she chose to use a blanket they purchased together at a local Pow Wow.

4In South Korea, ‘Love Days’ Happen More Than Once a Year

In South Korea, Valentine’s Day is a monthly occurrence — well, sort of. A different color or activity is designated on the 14th day of each month, for both couples and singles. On the traditional Valentine’s Day (February 14), the woman presents the man she likes with chocolate. On White Day however (March 14), the man reciprocates the gesture. The most interesting Love Day is Black Day on April 14, which is when Korean singles get together to lament their singlehood and eat black noodles called Jjajangmyeon, according to the Asia Society. Reddit users also explained how many couples designate special anniversaries based on days in between, like the 20th day, the 100th day, and more.

5For the Wodaabe Tribe, Male Pageantry Helps People Find a Mate

The Wodaabe tribe, who migrate across the Sahel desert of Africa, let women do the picking when it comes to finding a husband. This is done through a Gerewol ceremony, where men put a huge effort into their traditional dress, paint their faces, dance, and grin widely in hopes that they will be chosen. Women can also choose to find a new husband or even choose multiple partners during the ceremony.

6For Some Hindus, a Turmeric Rub Means New Beginnings

The Haldi ceremony is a significant part of a Hindu wedding where both the bride and the groom are bathed separately in golden turmeric by friends and family. Bollywood Shaadis writer Jasleen Kaur says everything from the color to its medicinal properties is reason enough for couples to undergo the process. She also notes that it’s a symbol for new beginnings and a good luck charm for new couples.

7For Some Scandinavians, Riddles and Silly Poems Are a Show of Affection

In some parts of Scandinavia, there is a tradition called gækkebreve, which involves making intricate paper snowflakes with riddles, silly poems, and other notes written on them. Friends and family drop them off anonymously, and the recipients must guess who the author is, or pay a “consequence”. One Reddit user explained that gækkebreve is a popular Easter tradition in Denmark. It used to be a kind of love letter exchange between young couples, but today it has become more of a community event. “You have until Easter to guess right,” they state. “If you guess right before then, the sender has to give you a chocolate egg, but if you don't, it's the other way around.”

Tags: Dating, Family, Marriage, relationships, love

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Written By

Katka Lapelosová

Katka is a writer from New York City, currently living in Belgrade, Serbia. See Full Bio

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