Pass the Love Around: International Acts of Affection
Every culture has its own ways of showing love, like giving gifts, doing small acts of kindness or even showing physical affection. In the United States, it is not uncommon to give gifts of jewelry and chocolates or to see a couple kissing over a romantic dinner. Believe it or not, some of these sweet gestures in American culture can be seen as a major faux pas in others.
It’s common knowledge that the Japanese value respect and privacy, especially in relationships. Showing public displays of affection is not a common practice so as to not make others uncomfortable, but also creates a safe and private environment for the couple to explore their feelings for each other. Japanese romantic affection comes from a mutual understanding of feelings for each other, not so much through proclamations of love. The way to a man’s heart it through his stomach, so it is common for wives to show their feelings by designing beautiful bento boxes made with care for their spouses to take to work with them, perhaps to make their partners’ coworkers a bit jealous of their edible creations.
Brazilians don’t need a holiday to celebrate love, as they are a naturally affectionate culture. Kisses are common when greeting and saying goodbye to someone, even in text messages! Public displays of affection are not seen as inappropriate, especially on Dia dos Namorados, or “Lovers’ Day” which takes place on June 12th. St. Anthony of Padua, the Brazilian Saint of Love is celebrated on June 13th, so it makes sense to take the previous day as a chance to pray to St. Anthony for a soul mate. On Lovers’ Day, couples take romantic walks on the beach and share dinner together while presenting gifts of chocolate and flowers, not unlike the United States.
In South Korea, there is no shortage of celebrations for love. As a matter of fact, the 14th of every month is dedicated to a different love-themed holiday. Valentine’s Day is a day for women to show their affections with candies and chocolates, and one month later on March 14th the men reciprocate on a holiday called “White Day.” Feeling left out because you haven’t found your other half? No worries. On April 14th, “Black Day” arrives for sad singles to come together dressed in black and eat heaps of black bean noodles. Though it seems a bit depressing, a comforting meal amongst friends can heal any heartbreak.
Valentine’s Day has only become popular in Germany in the past few decades, but only for adults. Exchanging cards and candies is popular amongst those in romantic relationships, while children must wait to grow up and find their own partners to celebrate with. It isn’t out of the ordinary to give gifts with pigs, like stuffed animals or pig shaped candies. In Germany pigs represent both luck and lust, which is a perfect sentiment to show to your loved one. Be careful not to come on too fast, Germans like to take romantic relationships slow and steady so professing your love on the third date is not the best idea.