10 Feb 2014

Around the World in 80 Valentines

Around The World in 80 Valentines


The day is almost upon us folks, the day that people love to hate and hate to love, Valentine’s Day, February 14th. A day filled with the celebration of love, relationships, romantic candlelit dinners, Red Hot Kisses (shameless promotion of the new Lady Boys of Bangkok tour) and cards. Saint Valentine’s Day is heaped in tradition and history. It is believed to have originated around the time of the Romans and holds both a cultural and religious significance. At present day, it is celebrated in many countries across the globe. History lesson aside, the numerous stories surrounding Saint Valentine himself indicate that he was an enigmatic romanticist at heart, so in honour of both him and this global celebration let’s take a look at how other countries celebrate Valentine’s Day.

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 Let’s start with our Scandinavian cousins; the cold harsh winters of the Scandinavian Peninsula are warmed by the celebration of Valentinsdagen (Norwegian for Valentine’s Day). In recent years Valentine’s Day has become more and more popular in this beautiful region of the world and it is closely linked to their spring celebrations. They tend to look for birds during this time, as birds mating are believed to be a sure sign of spring and love. What could be more romantic than avian voyeurism you say? How’s about spending Valentines in a glass toppedIgloo in Finland, where you and your partner could watch the breathtakinglybeautiful Aurora Borealis dance above you. I know which one we would choose.
 
Igloo Hotel, Kakslauttanen, Finland

One of the Igloo's at the Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort

Moving across the Atlantic to Latin America, Valentine’s Day is celebrated in a more encompassing fashion, instead of alienating people of a single disposition, they tend use the holiday to share love and friendship with friends and lovers alike. ‘Día del Amor y la Amistad’ (Day of Love and Friendship), as it’s known in Mexico, involves people performing random acts of appreciation for their friends, as well as giving cards and flowers to their significant other. Let’s be honest, whether you’re in a relationship or not, who doesn’t like feel appreciated? And here at Lady Boys were all the about that encompassing, no one left out, feeling. So we tip our Ram Thai Headdress to you, South America.
 
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 Valentine’s Day is fast becoming a global celebration due to the increasing influence of western cultures. This is especially true in East Asian countries, such as China, Japan and Thailand. Japan turns the idea of Valentines on its head with it being customary for women to give chocolates to men. This was apparently due to an error in translation made by a chocolate company executive. This executive just happened to be a man who loved chocolate.  ‘White Day’, celebrated March 14th, is the male equivalent, with men being expected to reciprocate the original gift with one of three times the value.
Thailand also falls head over heels for Valentine’s Day, with older and younger generations following tradition with the buying of gifts, flowers and indulging in romantic dinners. One of the many beautiful places you can take your loved one is Vertigoat the Banyan Tree, Bangkok, which is a rather swanky open roof-top restaurant, that boasts outstanding views of the Bangkok skyline and also a small chance of acrophobia.

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Vertigo at Banyan

In addition to the wining and dining, couples in Bangkok use the day to register their marriages in the city district of Bang Ruk (otherwise known as the ‘Love District’), the Thai equivalent of Gretna Green. For years now the Municipal Offices have offered the earliest couples to register a chance to win a golden marriage certificate. This creates a fever rush of couples flocking the district come Valentine’s Day. See the happy couple below? They were lucky enough to win one back in 2013.

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Another beautiful part of Bangkok Valentine tradition is the visiting of The Trimurti Shrine. This elegant shrine is located at the Ratchaprasong junction in downtown Bangkok. The legend surrounding the shrine states that those who pray there for true love have their dreams fulfilled, and it is also believed to bring happiness in relationships. As you can imagine, the romantic aura of the shrine attracts quite a crowd of people during Valentine’s. Worshippers generally bring offerings of Joss Sticks (Incense). On Valentine’s Day the ‘Lovers Shrine’ is decorated in red roses, and red candles adding a further visceral aspect the romantic appeal of Bangkok.
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