“Love is” cartoons, tooth-breaking candy hearts and honeymoon suites are clear ways to celebrate Valentine’s day, but around the globe, you’ll find some rather unusual practices for sharing your love. Whether it’s returned or not, however, might determine how much you enjoy them. While Valentine’s Day seems entirely progressive compared to Lupercalia, matchmaking in Ireland, finding a soulmate in Croatia and even an outlawed public practice in France are just a few of the ways we look forward to expressing our feelings this year.
Photo courtesy of Flickr user Regan Vercruysse
In Ireland, it’s all about whatever gets you down the aisle, I suppose. While some can get an early start on Valentine’s Day, there are plenty of chances to couple throughout the year. Bachelor’s Day lands on Leap Day every four years and, traditionally speaking, offers up the opportunity for women to ask men to dance or even to marry them. But for those who need a last-minute chance at matchmaking before cuffing season, there’s Lisdoonvarna’s Matchmaking Festival that spans the month of September. The small west coast city spends the month listening to music, dancing and meeting with matchmaker Willie Daly. If you arrive before September, stop by the Matchmaker Bar anyway. You never know who you will meet.
Photo courtesy of Wikipedia user Seanpu1
Stretching back to the 16th-century, licitars, otherwise known as licitarsko srce, are a gift of love given at weddings and on Valentine’s Day. The ornately decorated Croatian gingerbread cookies are a similar symbol of love like a bouquet of red roses, but even more sentimental. There’s a mirror affixed to the center of the heart, and as tradition goes, the idea was that the giver would stand behind the recipient. If the recipient saw the reflection of the one giving their heart, then it was a sign they were meant to be.
Photo courtesy of Flickr user Haley Finn
It’s not what you think. Welsh lovespoons are a long-standing tradition in which sweet treats are just a lead up to intricately carved spoons from a single piece of wood. The carvings highlight the skill of the one who created it and usually mirror Celtic knot designs, though you’ll see plenty of hearts too.
The French know how to bring style into the day-to-day, and that goes for pairing off-and being rejected-too. During the Valentine’s Day tradition of une loterie d’amour, or the lottery of love, men and women stood in their Parisenne windows to call to one another. Those who matched up in their calls partnered. Those who found unrequited love, however, threw a bonfire and tossed images of those who rejected them into the fire while hurling insults. It was certainly one way to make amends for losing hope for the one you love, but it is less than surprising that the French government banned the public practice.
Molly Harris is a freelance journalist. You can often find her on the highway somewhere between Florida and North Carolina or taking life slow in Europe.