Robin Gianna and Love Around the World

LOVE. AMORE. El AMOR. Such an important word to everyone one the planet, there’s even a special day to celebrate it!

RGiana Several stories exist about how Valentine’s Day came to be, but the most popular goes back thousands of years to Roman times when a certain emperor named Claudius II believed single men made better soldiers and banned marriage. A priest named Valentine defied him by still marrying couples.  After he was thrown in prison, he fell in love with a young woman who visited him. A love note he sent her just before he died became the first ‘Valentine’ (aww!) and in 498 AD, the pope declared February 14th as St. Valentine’s Day.

Since Valentine’s Day has been around so long, I was curious how many countries in the world actually celebrate it, and how. Here’s what I found out!

THE UNITED STATES: Americans love giving gifts and planning special outings to celebrate Valentine’s Day – it’s big business here! We spend an average of $142 per person, $20 billion dollars, on jewelry, candy, flowers, etc. – all the love that money can buy! 🙂 Some feel it’s all about marketing and guilt, but I believe most who celebrate Valentine’s Day simply enjoy having a reason to show the people they love how important they are. baloons

EUROPE: Valentine’s Day began here, of course, with gifts of chocolates and flowers spreading from Italy and France to other European countries then around the world. Germans aren’t quite as enthused as other countries, but they do have their own unique twist – little ceramic pigs, considered good luck, sometimes hold flowers or clovers, but often are given lying in suggestive poses on a chocolate heart. And large, heart-shaped ginger cookies with very lustful thoughts written on them are quite popular  🙂

vday-cardUK AND AUSTRALIA: Celebrated with a zeal similar to that of Americans, Brits and Australians love to give flowers and other gifts not only to their lovers, but to show affection to friends and family, too. Elaborately designed cards are particularly enjoyed in Australia, a tradition dating back to the gold rush days in Victoria. One interesting difference? 58% of men down under buy Valentine’s cards, but only 41% of Australian women do. I guess those Aussie men have more going for them than just their good looks and adorable accent!

LATIN AMERICA: Many widely diverse countries in this part of the world! In PERU, Valentine’s Day is celebrated on Feb.14, with orchids being the flower of choice to give. BRAZIL’S celebration of love comes on June 12, the eve of St. Anthony’s Day, who is the patron saint of matchmaking and marriage. Single women perform rituals, such as writing then hiding a love note in hopes of finding a good husband, while couples exchange romantic gifts. In MEXICO, The Day of Love and Friendship comes after Christmas, with gifts of balloons, flowers and candy. And ARGENTINIANS spread the love around during ‘Sweetness Week’ and ‘Friendship Day’ in July, where everyone gifts each other with candy and kisses.

CHINA: A traditional Valentine’s Day comes on the 7th day of the 7th lunar month on the Chinese calendar, based on a legend of two stars in lovechocolate-hearts living at opposite ends of the Milky Way galaxy. Gifts aren’t exchanged on this date, but on February 14 they are, as many Chinese now embrace Western culture. One important bit of advice given to Chinese suitors? Don’t give your lover shoes, because it implies that you’re ‘packing off your love.’ I would think shoes as a Valentine’s gift anywhere wouldn’t bode well for that relationship! 🙂

asian-coupleJAPAN: Interestingly, only women give chocolates on Valentine’s Day, and the kind of chocolate given depends on the woman’s relationship with the men they’re gifting. ‘Giri-choco’ literally means ‘obligation chocolate’ and is given to friends, co-workers and relatives. ‘Hon-mei’ chocolate is given to a boyfriend and is often made by hand. I love that hon-mei translates to ‘prospective winner’ and needless to say, a guy is pretty happy when he receives it! Then a month later on March 14, it’s ‘white day,’ when men give women white chocolate, flowers and gifts.

Well, I could go on…and on!…because there are a lot of people and countries in the world, but the Romance Bandits didn’t ask for a dissertation about Valentine’s Day! 😉

How about you? Do you or your family have any special Valentine’s Day traditions? Or if you live in a country I didn’t mention, I’d love to hear howParisCover-190x300 Valentine’s Day is celebrated where you are!

By the way, I have a February release IT HAPPENED IN PARIS…that’s part of a Harlequin Mills & Boon duo called ‘A Valentine to Remember’ and I’d love to give a copy and a tote bag to someone leaving a comment on the blog today.   Any chance there’s a happily ever after on Valentine’s Day inside? 😉

Avery Girard might have sworn off men, but she can’t help but get swept away by the beauty, magic and romance of Valentine’s Day in Paris…especially when she ends up spending it with totally irresistible Dr. Jack Dunbar. One little fling can’t hurt, right?

Wrong! After an afternoon of passion, Avery discovers that Jack is actually the cardiologist she is meant to be assessing! Even more worrying, when it comes to Jack, she’s not only dangerously close to losing her professional cool…she’s close to losing her heart.

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  • Amy Conley says:

    Does he get me?

    • Amy Conley says:

      If wboever has him now lives anywhere except the west coast of the US, I’m coming to the rooster. See, he vets me. 🙂

      • Amy Conley says:

        I need to remember my tablet works now. The west coast of the US is the only place warm and snow/ice free.

      • Amy –

        The rooster should be with Deanna from yesterday but I don’t know where Deanna lives. Heck, even the south got blasted in this latest storm. I’m with you – go west you feisty bird…and take me with you!

  • Amy Conley says:

    Nothing really special, usually just cards. The trick is do we get funny or lovey-dovey cards. I would say 99% of the time we both get the same type card for each other. Moztly Valentine’s Day is the anni ersary of moving into our house. It happened to be a snow day that Valentine’s day also. We’ve been here 30 years this Valentine’s. 🙂

    • I hear you on the lovey-dovey (which seems far too overdone to me) or humorous cards. This year I got my husband a blank card and wrote my own short but cute (I thought) passage. He gave me one of those singing cards that scared the cat. Then I left to do a booksigning 100 miles away. Not quite the romance of our youth – but hey – it still works! 🙂

    • Robin Gianna says:

      Hi, Amy! Valentine’s Day being the anniversary of moving into your house is kind of fun – you’ll never have to try to remember when that was, will you? 🙂

      My hubby and I usually do a simple exchange of cards, too. It’s interesting that it seems that he and I tend to alternate sentiments – one year, I’ll write a more loving card and his to me will be humorous, then the next year it’s reversed. Seems to work! 🙂

  • Franca Poli says:

    I’m Italian and my family is the tradition of giving a box of chocolates for Valentine’s Day, and then in the evening becomes an intimate dinner by candlelight, maybe the restaurant.

    • Hmmm….like the sound of an intimate dinner – as long as it doesn’t require elegant dress. I could slip into a skinny black dress (well…it’s a normal size dress but fits me like a tight skinny dress 🙂 ) and I’m good. Hate to sacrifice my warm jeans and sweater in February in Ohio 🙂

    • Robin Gianna says:

      Franca, I think that’s the perfect tradition for Valentine’s Day! We went to dinner with three other couples this year, and while it was fun, I have to say it didn’t qualify as very romantic! Intimate is the way to go at least one day a year. Thanks for stopping by!

  • flchen1 says:

    We’re pretty mellow about Valentine’s Day… we do sometimes spring for sale chocolate after, because nothing says love better than half-priced candy 😀

    Thanks for sharing some of those traditions from around the globe–very fun to see what the rest of the world does!

    • Oh wow! I forgot about the half-price chocolates! I wonder if they’re still at the store.

      We didn’t do chocolates this year as it’s been too cold to venture out and I live in the house of diet. Seriously, my daughter who does all the cooking made lentil soup for dinner on Valentine’s day – Lentil soup! How can that ever be romantic? Sigh. I told her to save the soup for the next day and ran out for some “romantic” KFC chicken. 🙂

    • Robin Gianna says:

      Thanks, Flichen! Glad you enjoyed it – I had fun researching, and it was hard to know when to stop! 🙂

      Half price chocolates…now there’s a dangerous thought…

  • Helen says:

    Hi Robin

    Congrats on the release of this one I have heard lots of good things about and am looking forward to reading it.

    I live in Australia and yes card giving chocolates and flowers are the biggies here but hubby and I have stopped doing that these days we have decided that we are always here for each other and we can buy each other gifts when ever bit I love seeing all the flowers that people get 🙂

    Have Fun

    • We do (or not do) the same. It’s hard to keep a high degree of celebration in a long term relationship – but flowers on occasion would be nice. 🙂

    • Robin Gianna says:

      Thank you, Helen! I hope you enjoy it!

      As for Valentine’s Day, if every day is a quiet celebration of your love for one another, you don’t need a special day, do you?

  • Jane says:

    We keep it simple with the usual candy and flowers, but sometimes we don’t even bother to buy those. Nobody gets mad if we forget about V-Day.

    • We exchanged cards 🙂

      I remember one year my husband bought me this little guy that danced to the song “I’m just a love machine – Oh yeah” I laughed till I cried. I still have that little guy somewhere. I should break him out in celebration.

    • Robin Gianna says:

      Hi, Jane! My hubby and I are the same way about our anniversary. It falls at the beginning of the school year, and there always seemed to be so much going on with school and sports that it often slipped by both of us! 🙂

  • Minna says:

    Here in Finland Valentine’s Day is called Ystävänpäivä which means “Friend’s Day”. In other words, this day is more about remembering friends, though obviously it doesn’t exclude significant others. Also in Estonia Valentine’s Day is “Friend’s Day”, sõbrapäev.

    • I like the concept of Friend’s Day, Minna, Does it involve giving chocolate? A friend bearing chocolate is a friend indeed, I say. 🙂

    • Robin Gianna says:

      I like that, Minna! It was interesting to me as I researched Valentine’s Day around the globe how many countries focused more on general love of friends and family rather than romantic love. Thanks for stopping by!

  • Laurie G says:

    My husband and I have a special dinner that goes back to our early premarried days. This year my sister and her husband were visiting so we went out for dinner with them and my 90 yo mom. We had a fun time.

    My husband and I hate to shop so we have a pact no gifts, cards etc. Throughout the year we purchase what we want or need. It’s worked well for us.

    • Robin Gianna says:

      A special dinner every year sounds perfect, Laurie! And how wonderful that you got to enjoy a lovely dinner with your mother – every one of those is precious now, isn’t it?

      A pact with your hubby about Valentine’s Day gifts that works for both of you is all that matters, right?

  • Margaret says:

    I’d never heard the story about Priest Valentine defying Claudius II. So Valentine’s Day was loaded with love and risk right from the start. I downloaded IT HAPPENED IN PARIS and am looking forward to reading it.

  • Saralee Etter says:

    Aww, what a sweet collection of Valentine’s Day traditions! When my cat Pyewacket was living, my husband used to buy a bouquet of roses and baby’s breath for both of us.
    I loved the roses, and Pyewacket went nuts for the baby’s breath! It was just as good as catnip to her.

    • Robin Gianna says:

      Aww, how sweet that your hubby included your cat in his gift of Valentine’s flowers, Saralee! How interesting about the baby’s breath – I have some in the bouquet my hubby got for me. When it’s done, I’ll give the baby’s breath to the cat to see what he thinks!

  • Debbie Oxier says:

    We don’t really celebrate Valentine’s Day as we have a lot of family birthdays in February, mine included.

  • Shannon says:

    Mainly just cards. Sometimes flowers or chocolates.

    • Robin Gianna says:

      To me, a card can be the best sentiment of all, Shannon. And not just Valentine’s cards – I keep a beautiful card my daughter made for me on my desk. It has such a touching sentiment, I like to reread it sometimes, especially on days I’m not sure how well I’m doing as a mother! 🙂

  • anne says:

    A low key celebration with a card and our evening together which is precious.

    • Robin Gianna says:

      And who could want anything more than that, Anne? Well, unless you’re one of the celebrities that are always on the covers of those silly magazines – they might want a new diamond ring, too 😉 But for most of us, time together is the best Valentine’s gift of all.

  • jcp says:

    I use it as an excuse to buy myself chocolate and books

  • Colleen C. says:

    I like to make cards for my family members… share some chocolate! 😀

    • Robin Gianna says:

      There’s nothing nicer than a hand-made card, so kudos to you, Colleen! I’m not very artsy that way, but maybe one of these days I’ll give it a try, since I sure do love to receive them.

  • Janie Mason says:

    We exchange cards and usually my handsome hubby gets me roses. This year was the exception as we were out of town for Valentine’s Day but he still remembered with a card and dark chocolate!

    • Robin Gianna says:

      That’s sweet, Jane! (and your hubby IS handsome!) Mine usually gets me flowers, but not roses in a long time. Should I tell him he needs to get more romantic with the flower of love? 😉

  • Elaina says:

    We exchange cards which are meaningful and important.

  • catslady says:

    We usually at least do cards and add a few lottery tickets lol. After 45 years I never know – this year didn’t work out but there’s always next year. My daughter just got engaged the day after Valentines lol. I guess he wanted it to be their day which I think is romantic!

    • Robin Gianna says:

      Lottery tickets is a fun idea!! Maybe I’ll do that next year for my kids’ cards. Congratulations on your daughter getting engaged – and the day after Valentine’s IS romantic. How wonderful!

  • ellie says:

    We remember and cherish the day with cards that are unique.

  • Robin Gianna says:

    Unique cards seem to be the theme, Ellie. Probably because they’re so meaningful to everyone! Thanks for stopping in.

  • Patty L. says:

    My husband and I exchange cards, but traditionally we buy our children Valentines. I buy for our son and he buys for our daughter. She is in college now and my husband sent her a care package so she was thrilled and I gave out son a ITunes gift card.

  • Robin Gianna says:

    I love that idea, Patty! I’m sure both your kids feel happy that you remember them on Valentine’s Day, and look forward to what you’ve come up with. Especially those away in college – those care packages mean a lot! I particularly like that you and your husband each buy for one child. I’ve always been the care-package provider in our household – I’m going to suggest to my hubby that he come up with one to send, which would definitely be a big surprise 🙂

  • Robin, welcome and congrats on your new release! I love the cover.

    Wow, who knew there were so many different ways to celebrate this holiday? Thanks for the interesting blog.

    We don’t have any special traditions beyond exchanging cards. The dh generally springs for flowers and, this year, for a tiny chocolate box.

    • Robin Gianna says:

      I was interested and surprised to see all the various kinds of Valentine’s celebrations too, Nancy!

      Cards and an exchange of a tiny chocolate box? Definitely the most thoughtful kind for our waistlines! 🙂 Thanks for stopping by!

  • Caren Crane says:

    Robin, I love hearing how these special “love days” are celebrated around the world. I never knew there was such a diversity of times and ways to celebrate!

    The DH and I usually swap cards and buy each other chocolates.My husband is far more sensitive than I am, so I have to try hard to remember these things. Personally, I don’t give a rat’s patootie about Valentine’s Day. A real gesture of affection? Making up the bed every day. Not leaving dishes in the sink. I am a serious pragmatist and love practical expressions of affection! 😀

    • Robin Gianna says:

      I love what you’ve said about daily gestures being so important, Caren! It’s so true that those matter more than anything,

      As for who cares more about things like Valentine’s Day, It is interesting that society stereotypes women as being more sensitive and men as being more practical, but that’s definitely not always true, as you’ve noted. When my hubby and I get into an argument, to me it’s over and done with an hour later, but it might bother him for days!

  • Hi Robin. I enjoyed your post. I was born in Norway. Valentinsdagen, means Valentine’s Day in Norwegian and it’s celebrated on February 14th, too. In Norway, the day is marked by gifts, romantic adventures of love and it gives Norwegians an excuse to flirt with each other.

    Congrats on your new release!

    • Robin Gianna says:

      Thank you, Marisa! And thanks, too, for your insight on how Norway celebrates Valentine’s Day – but I didn’t know until now that you were born there! I want to hear more next time I see you 🙂

  • Kaelee says:

    Robin ~ You put together a wonderful collection of Valentine’s tidbits. We celebrate on February 10th which is the date we met each other. We have been married for 46 1/2 years now so things have changed a bit. We usually don’t go out to eat in the crowds and we buy orchid plants. We pick these out together. I woke up to new wallpaper on the computer as my husband had put our picture into a heart and put it up. We tend to be much more practical nowadays than we used to be. I swore I was never getting old but I have joined the ranks.

    On another note I loved your book. I enjoyed the visit to Paris and Alsace. I found out about biomedical engineering. Most of all I loved Avery and Jack and how they couldn’t ignore the chemistry between them despite the pitfalls blocking their relationship.

  • Robin Gianna says:

    Kaelee, I absolutely love the way you and your hubby celebrate Valentine’s Day after having been together so long. Sharing a common interest is so wonderful. And that he put a photo of the two on your computer, framed by a heart? That is a serious, heart-warming Awww!

    Thank you so much for your kind words about my book! I’m so glad you enjoyed it – that really makes my day! I appreciate your telling me! xoxo