Home / Events / Valentine´s Day(s) in East and West
Valentine´s Day(s) in East and West

Every year on the 14th of February we celebrate the possibly most romantic holiday: Valentine´s Day.

But why do we celebrate Valentine´s Day? And is it celebrated in Asia the same way as it is in Europe?

Valentine's Day is an annual holiday celebrated on February 14. It originated as a Western Christian holiday honoring a young guy called Valentinus. According to the legend, Valentinus healed the daughter of his jailer during his imprisonment and before his execution, he wrote her a letter signed "Your Valentine" as a farewell. But it was only after the past decades that Valentines`s Day gained it´s huge popularity in America and Europe, due to intensive promotion by florists and the candy factories, who register the highest increase in sales during the days before 14th of February every year. Now this date is recognized as a significant cultural and commercial event in many regions around the world, although it is not a public holiday in any country. To celebrate their love, couples give each other flowers and pralines, they spend the day together and go to a good restaurant in the evening.

But how about celebrating this popular holiday in Asia?

Meanwhile, western Valentine´s Day enjoys rising popularity within the younger generation in China. As it is an imported holiday, there are no huge differences between Asia and Europe in the way this special occasion is being celebrated. There is, however, a Chinese counterpart to Valentine´s Day called Qixi (七夕,qīxī), celebrated on the seventh day of the seventh month of the lunar calendar.

According to the tale, Qixi is the night when two lovers - the cowherd (牛郎, Niú láng) and the weaver girl (織女, Zhīnǚ ), represented by the two stars Altair and Wega which are located on the opposite sides of the Milky Way - can be together after having been seperated for one year. This tale originates from a love story about the cow herd and the heavenly fairy having spent a happy marriage life together on earth. But when taking her daughther back to heaven, the heavenly Goddess used a hairpin for drawing a magical river (the Millky Way) into the sky, in order to prevent Niulang from following his beloved wife. Affected by the deepness of their love, a flock of magpies then formed a bridge to help reuniting the lovers. Henceforth, this happens only once a year: on the seventh day of the seventh month (9th of August 2016).

In recent years, celebrating “White Day“ on the 14th of March also became fashionable among some young people in China, Taiwan and Korea. White Day was first celebrated in 1978 in Japan. It was started by the National Confectionery Industry Association as an "response day" to Valentine's Day, on the grounds that men should pay back women who gave them chocolate and other gifts on Valentine's Day.

Although the question about the perfect present for Valentine´s Day may have caused one or another grey hair, in both East and West, Valentine`s Day turns out to be an especially nice and romantic day for most lovers and would-be‘s. Having a flowery dinner and strolling around the pink decorated city, the busy and stressful weeks of buying presents will be forgotten soon.