The Weird and the Wonderful

In case you've been hiding under a rock, you'll have no doubt figured out that tomorrow is Valentine's Day. Now we know that sometimes, we get maybe a bit too caught up in the whole flowers and cards and chocolates thing and that can be a bit, well...boring to say the least! So this year, we're celebrating the build-up to Valentine's Day by looking at some weird and wonderful global traditions and how other countries and cultures mark the day the love. Who knows, this might just give you some great ideas you can use tomorrow! Japan While it's more common for men to spoil their other halves in Western culture, in Japan the tradition is reversed. On the 14th, Japanese women shower their men with gifts, particularly chocolates, of which there are many different types. Exactly one month later, on 14th March, the men are expected to return the favour and give gifts and chocolates to women on what is known as "White Day." Wales Not only do the Welsh celebrate love on January 25th (The Day of St Dwynwen, a patron saint of love), but they also have a cute and unusual tradition to match. Forget about flowers are chocolates - in Wales, it's all about spoons! In an age-old tradition, it is customary for lovers to give each other intricately carved wooden spoons often depicting various motifs to show and symbolise their affections for each other. Germany Although Germans celebrate in much the same way as other Western cultures, they like to take the sweet treats a step further. As well as the usual gifts, lovers in this country also buy enormous gingerbread cookies for their other halves. Often these will be beautifully decorated and bearing sweet messages to show their feelings. Denmark and Norway Whilst Valentine's Day was not usually celebrated in Denmark and Norway up until recently, these countries have come up with a fun game to mark the day of love. Men will send anonymous poems or love rhymes to women, who must then guess who the sender is based on dots above certain letters of the poem, which give the woman a clue as to who the sender might be. If the woman guesses correctly, she gets to receive an Easter egg from her admirer later in the year - if she can't guess, she owes an Easter egg to her Romeo! Finland and Estonia Fed up of all the smug couples on Valentine's Day? Maybe you should consider moving to Finland or Estonia, where the 14th February is a celebration of friendship rather than romance. It is customary for friends to give each other cards and gifts and to greet each other with "Happy Friends Day" - we couldn't think of a better reason to celebrate your besties! Bulgaria Although many couples in Bulgaria today will celebrate the 14th February as the day of love, traditionally this day is also a celebration of wine. Called the "Day of Trifon Zarezan," this dates back to old Pagan and Orthodox customs and is a brilliant reason to try some of the country's amazing wines as well as welcoming the onset of Spring. Legend has it that the more wine that flows on the 14th February, the better next year's harvest will be so cheers, or "Nazdrave," as the Bulgarians say!

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