For some Valentine’s Day represents a day on which you can show your loved one how much they mean to you. For others it represents the commercialisation of relationships. For many it is a day of doom on which to wither in being single (don’t worry, China has a day for you).
Whilst love may be universal – romance takes an astounding array of forms around the world. We have uncovered 14 of the world’s most weird and wonderful love customs – from the adorable to the downright disturbing.
This Aussie tradition offers a rare opportunity for youngsters from the outback (who often lead quite secluded lives) to socialise. Notorious for binge drinking and dangerous stunts (amongst other debaucheries), these parties are under pressure from insurance companies to close down.
As if the wedding day wasn’t stressful enough, when the groom comes to collect his bride he’s confronted by a blockade of bridesmaids obstructing his entrance. After demanding red envelopes of money, the bridesmaids subject the groom to a series of games and physical tasks designed to prove his love.
In years gone by, French newlyweds were made to drink the leftovers from their wedding party out of a toilet bowl! Thankfully, this custom no longer exists in its entirety, but don’t be surprised if you come across the bride and groom supping on chocolates and champagne served out of a replica toilet bowl.
Every year, competitors from all over the world gather in the village of Sonkarjävi in Finland to participate in this peculiar sporting event. With partner slung over their shoulder, contestants get stuck into an assortment of challenges and the winner receives the partner’s weight in beer as well as significant honour.
Croatia’s capital, Zagreb, is the home to a weird and wonderful exhibition featuring a quirky collection of amorous mementos and random paraphernalia (donated by people from across the globe) left behind after a break-up.
During the couple’s first dance, guests pin money to the bride’s and groom’s clothing – leaving them twirling about the floor entwined in decorative (not to mention, expensive) paper streams. Believe it or not, this custom is actually considered an honour for the guests.
In India, advertising prospective suitors and singles in local papers and online is commonplace, but a new Hindi-language channel has taken it one step further. Shagun TV channel features a glitzy new show which is fundamentally teleshopping for singles.
On Valentine’s Day in Japan it is the job of the women to buy chocolates for the men. But fear not, ladies: one month later it’s White Day, when the men have to splash out for the girls if their feelings are mutual. Oh, and did I mention the men are expected to spend twice as much?
At a Massai wedding in Kenya it is not uncommon to see the bride’s father bless his daughter by spitting on her head and breasts before she leaves the village with her new husband.
Why have one day when you can have 12? Well, in Korea they don’t just celebrate Valentine’s Day on 14 February – in fact, the 14th day of every month holds a special kind of romantic significance. With days for singletons, days for forgiveness and days just to hug, there’s something to celebrate no matter what your relationship status.
In this (somewhat unrefined) pre-wedding tradition, the bride-to-be is pelted with all manner of revolting things from rotten eggs to treacle and fish and is then paraded through the streets. The Scots believe this humiliation serves to better prepare a bride for married life.
The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is Moscow’s top destination for wedding parties, who snap photos and drink champagne while the bride and groom pay their respects by laying ﬂowers at the grave site.
This simple and sweet Puerto Rican tradition sees a bride doll draped in charms and placed at the head of the top table of the wedding reception. Towards the end of the celebrations, the charms are handed out to the guests as tokens of love and thanks.
This endearing Welsh tradition gives a whole new meaning to the term ‘spooning’. The male presents his lover with a meticulously carved wooden spoon as a gesture that he will always feed and provide for her. If the affections are not mutual, the spoon is returned (awkward), but if the spooning is successful, the sweetheart must wear it around her neck for a number of days.