Around the world in eight issues: Valentine’s Day

Xue Yan is a junior philosophy major from Changchun, China.

People do celebrate Valentine’s Day in China, but it is treated as an imported western holiday. Like [at] other western holidays, people in China just do lots of shopping, buying lots of chocolate [and] flowers. I don’t think people know why it’s called “Valentine’s day;” they don’t know the history or the traditions, except shopping.

However, there is a “Chinese Valentine’s Day.” This holiday is determined by the lunar calendar, not the solar calendar like the western Valentine’s. I think this year it is in August. Like Valentine’s Day, it celebrates romantic love.

The myth that it’s based on is about heavenly spirit, who, along with her fellow spirits, comes down to earth to take a shower, essentially. The spirit misplaced her clothes, and [a] laborer found them and kept them safe for her. When she found him and her clothes, the two of them fell in love, but the union is forbidden because of the difference in status between a deity and a human. So they have to separate and she has to return to the heavens. However, she keeps telling her father how much she loves this man and how much she misses him, and so he allows the two of them to meet once every year, and that’s the day that’s celebrated as Chinese Valentine’s Day. People love the story both because it’s a romantic story, but also because it represents a successful love between two people of very different social status.

And, honestly, although it has a much bigger history in China and is much more a part of the culture, we celebrate it in the same ways as Valentine’s Day in the West, with lots of chocolate and flowers, maybe a cute card or something.

Hikari Tanaka is a junior biology major from Tema, Ghana and Nara, Japan.

Valentine’s Day is part of western culture so during this time, Ghanaians pretty much do the same thing as everyone else: buy chocolates, roses, teddy bears, etc.

But Ghanaians are also very jovial people so it is also a day for jokes! Pretty much everyone can enjoy the day [whether] you are in a relationship or not. When I was in high school, the principal once shared chocolate with the whole school because it was Valentine’s Day.

Samhita Nagaraj is a senior psychology major from Bangalore, India.

Valentine’s Day is typically celebrated like it is in the West. It’s just a Hallmark holiday. Romantic love isn’t really a thing in India, traditionally. Love is expected to grow between you, in an arranged marriage, and it isn’t really even love, it’s just a deep bond.

However, Valentine’s Day is celebrated by some people in India, and the RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, a right-wing Hindu nationalist party in India) is planning on doing “social policing” this year. They are planning on patrolling the streets and dragging any couple showing any sign of physical attraction towards each other to the nearest temple and getting them married by force. Either that or they want to force them to tie rakhis on each other’s wrists (symbolically making them brother and sister). This is Valentine’s Day in India. It is illegal, of course.

The funny thing is, though, there is a side effect that they did not intend. They said “any people” who are sharing physical intimacy; that includes gay couples! So, they [the RSS] are basically creating a loophole to constitutional amendment 377 which basically abolished gay marriage last year.