The XX factor
In Japan and Korea, women take the lead on Valentine’s Day, giving their partners, male friends and co-workers chocolate gifts. Women are also in charge in South Africa, where, inspired by the ancient Roman festival of Lupercalia, they pin the name of their crush on their sleeve, hoping to prompt romance.
In Denmark and Norway, men have to get creative, making Gaekkebrev (‘joke letters’), intricately carved paper cards with a hand-penned poem or rhyme and a pressed snowdrop flower. Rather than putting their names, these Nordic romantics sign off with dots, one for each letter of their first name. If the lady in question guesses whom the card comes from, she wins an Easter egg from her admirer at Easter!
The kind Estonians spare a thought for those of us who are not coupled up at this time of year, by celebrating 14th February as “Friends Day”. Family members and friends are as much part of the celebration as lovers, exchanging gifts and enjoying each other’s company.