Valentine’s Day is one of America’s favorite holidays, but this celebration of romantic love exists in all corners of the world — including the Niagara Falls region. The United States and Canada tend to agree on the traditions of the holiday: Couples in love exchange gifts like candies or jewelry wrapped in red hues to signify their passion for one another. However, other cultures that celebrate Valentine’s Day do so quite differently. When you visit Niagara Falls for Valentine’s Day, consider the following alternative festivities to your usual romantic gestures.
1. Niagara Falls
Rather than roses and chocolates, most native Canadians prefer to exchange written notes, poems, and paintings, which is a tradition that has its roots in the very first Valentine’s Day celebrations in the 19th century. However, in Niagara Falls, there are dozens of ways for lovers to show their commitment and joy. Some examples include:
- Strolling hand-in-hand through the various Niagara parks and gardens.
- Enjoying a cozy carriage ride around quaint Niagara-on-the-Lake.
- Tasting some of the world’s best wine at various legendary Niagara vineyards.
- Cuddling up to watch the nightly fireworks show and viewing the illuminated waterfalls.
In the Far East, Japanese people exchange chocolates with their sweeties just like in the West — with one notable difference. In Japan, it is the women who lavish their men with gifts to show their love and devotion. Many Japanese women also present chocolate to men and women they are merely friends with, but these gifts take different names and forms:
- Giri-choko, or obligation chocolate, is given to men who serve absolutely no romantic place in a woman’s life, like bosses, co-workers, brothers, fathers, and close friends.
- Cho-giri-choko, or ultra-obligatory chocolate, is even less meaningful, presented to people with whom the woman has little affinity or affection.
- Honmei-choko, or true-feeling chocolate, is reserved only for boyfriends, lovers, or husbands and may be homemade.
- Tomo-choko, or friendship chocolate, is given to close female friends.
3. South Korea
February 14 isn’t the only romantic holiday celebrated by South Koreans. In the Japanese fashion, women in South Korea spoil their men on Valentine’s Day, or Red Day, which takes place in February. A month later, men return the favor on March 14’s White Day, which is also done in Japan. Then, on April 14, single people who were unable to celebrate Red or White Day with a sweetheart gather at restaurants to enjoy one another’s company over a plate of black noodles.
Oddly enough, the Scandinavian states aren’t a particularly romantic bunch. Still, one remarkable tradition for Valentine’s Day in Denmark is the exchanging of quirky poems or rhyming love notes called gaekkebrev. The letters are sent anonymously — like secret valentines — and the recipient is tasked with guessing the sender based only on the number of letters in his or her name. Winners receive extra presents on Easter later in the year, while losers must provide extra presents on that day.
Instead of St. Valentine’s Day, the Welsh celebrate love on St. Dwynwen’s Day, which occurs on January 25. Welsh legend states that an ancient princess fell madly in love with a young man, but the couple was unable to wed — for reasons such as class disparity or previous commitments, different oral traditions state. The princess, after praying fervently in the woods, was granted three wishes, one of which was for God to protect and answer the wishes of all young lovers for eternity.