Koreans celebrate Valentine’s Day differently: Men get the day off. Meanwhile, women give chocolates as a symbol of their love. But that doesn’t mean their male counterparts are entirely off the hook. On March 14, on a holiday called White Day, guys respond to their crush, reciprocating with candy or teddy bears as a gesture that they accept the gift they received.
2. Handwritten Love
Denmark and Norway have an old-school take on Valentine’s Day, perfect for anyone looking for a change of pace. Scandinavian men send a “gaekkebrev” — an anonymous handwritten poem or rhyming love note. The recipient then must guess from whom the message came by deciphering a series of dots, one for each letter of the sender’s name. If they’re right, they win an egg on Easter. If they’re wrong, they owe the sender an egg.
Well, not in the physical sense exactly, but lovers in Wales traditionally gift symbolic spoons on St. Dwynwen’s Day — their saint of love. But these aren’t your ordinary spoons: They’re large, wooden utensils with intricate Celtic knot work interwoven throughout, which symbolizes two lives joined together. And if your crush is not sobbing by this point, there’s a large heart in the middle that can be inscribed with their name as a representation of y’all’s love too. While this holiday is on Jan. 25, feel free to get ahead of the game for 2022 and buy one of these special spoons online for between $50 and $100.
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In South Africa hopeless romantics announce their love by etching their crush’s name onto their sleeves, a tradition called Lupercalia in honor of the pagan celebrations of ancient Rome. In the past, Lupercalia festivities included a matchmaking lottery where single women are paired at random with unmarried men. So to do as South Africans do, don’t be afraid to literally wear your heart on your sleeve.
2. Get Lost, Together
Escape rooms make the best dates because of how interactive they are. Thankfully, some companies, including The Escape Game, are now offering them virtually over Zoom, making it possible to enjoy cooperative gameplay, puzzles and tasks from the safety of home. There are lots of thematic choices too: Hogwarts fans, in particular, will enjoy this one. But not all escape rooms are online-only: Chicago-based company Fox in a Box reopened its physical location in January with updated COVID policies, and others remain open across the world.
3. Flower Picking
Romania’s customs are similar to that of most of the Western world. On their annual celebration of love called Dragobete, it is tradition to scavenge for spring flowers in nearby forests for your significant other. The holiday’s roots, however, have a deeper history entrenched in superstition and mystery. According to Roman mythology, Dragobete is a half-human, half-angel immortal entity who is the son of Baba Dochia — a character associated with the return of spring. Instead of using his powers to make people fall in love, Dragobete is a reminder of its importance. The patron saint of love and cheerfulness is often compared to Greek mythology’s Eros and is celebrated today by showing love through attention and being present rather than material things.
4. Friend’s Day
Who says Valentine’s Day has to be about romance? In Estonia, they have a tradition called Friend’s Day, where, in an effort not to leave singles out, locals also give family and friends gifts and exchange nonromantic displays of love on Feb. 14. Side note: Have you heard of the struggle bus? Here, you can ride the love bus instead, along with other singles who jump on board in hopes of meeting someone special — although to be honest, for many of us, this might be a ride down struggle lane as well.
Dark chocolate or milk chocolate? Based on a few simple questions like this, two MIT grads with a passion for wine created the perfect algorithm to pair you with wines you’ll love. Bright Cellars is a monthly wine club that delivers the best wines for you … right to your door. What could be better than that?
A box of chocolates is nice. But seven days’ worth of chocolates? They’ll love you forever. Saturday is the next-to-last day of Ghana’s National Chocolate Week. Between the activities, sweets, beverages and chocolate-infused dishes, your veins will be pumping Yoo-hoo by the end. Launched by the Ghana Cocoa Board with the slogan “Eat Chocolate, Stay Healthy and Grow Ghana” to bolster the local cocoa economy, this tasty date basically plans itself.
2. Trifon Zarezan Day
During this time of year,Bulgarians revere St. Trifon, the patron saint of the vineyard, a process which, as you might imagine, involves a fair bit of inebriation. The day typically starts by pruning and blessing the crop, which is seen as the start of the harvest season. Then, single or not, Bulgarians indulge in dancing, wine galore and a feast of roasted chicken stuffed with rice. Instead of boxed chocolates and flowers, enjoy Bulgarian culture by eating well … and maybe filling your cup one extra time for good luck.
3. Hidden Message
The Sisters’ Meals Festival is about finding love ... by way of food. Celebrated by China’s Miao ethnic community in April, women dress in traditional garb, sing and dance, then present the men with cloth-wrapped bundles of steamed rice. Once unraveled, therein lies a message. If they get parsley, that’s a marriage proposal. But garlic? Well, let’s just say, politely, that that’s a hard pass.
Love on yourself this Valentine’s Day by watching Oprah's Your Life in Focus: Be the Love You Need — a free virtual event centered on self-love. The interactive experience spotlights celebrity guests, the finest wellness experts and Oprah herself, who will be giving lessons from her life. Including digital workbook exercises and a virtual wellness bag for some lucky attendees, the 90-minute event started at 11 a.m. EST Saturday — but if you head to YouTube or Facebook, you will be able to watch it after the fact.
2. After Hours: Sex With Margaret Cho
Five-time Grammy- and Emmy-nominated comedian and musician Margaret Cho has conquered everything she’s touched. Why would it be different with sex? After 10-plus years in stand-up, the San Francisco native has decided to take the wisdom she’s learned from the many sexual encounters she’s joked about to good use. For an unforgettable evening of sex advice, catch her Sunday at 5 p.m. PST. Tickets range from $20 to $100 — with the upcharge earning you a VIP shout-out or a steamy question, if you’re into that sort of thing.
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The museum has to be the safest first-date pick: It makes you look smart, it’s easy to ditch early, and it doesn’t involve watching people chew. Museums are also COVID-proof now, as many landmark establishments, including the Smithsonian, are offering virtual activities. The National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C., currently has a 3D exhibit on the African Bush Elephant and African Voices, while the National Women’s History Museum in Virginia is looking at women in NASA and preparing for a digital launch with the Space Center Houston app. You can also take a tour of the International Space Station here.
2. Get Your Baecation On
How romantic would it be to get away for Valentine’s Day? Well, with Virtual Vacation, you can. Features are virtually endless, with walking, driving and flying tour options, all filmed in real time. You can choose specific experiences to have, such as a focus on seeing monuments. Plus, with tours documenting more than 50 countries, you can quickly choose a travel destination after hearing about it in casual conversation, making it the perfect thoughtful gift your partner never knew you could pull off.
3. Camping in Tasmania
In the northwestern wilderness of Tasmania lies a cabin away from the world called Cradle Mountain Lodge, where no one, not even COVID, can bother you. Here you can take in the beauty of the mountains across more than 20 self-guided walking tracks that range from 20 minutes to nine hours. For a sense of how exotic this Valentine’s Day affair could get, the King Billy Suite has an outdoor jacuzzi overlooking the evergreens.