Valentine’s Day is a commonly known holiday of love in the United States and some countries throughout Europe. Couples most often celebrate the holiday as a way to show appreciation of their relationship. Around the world, many countries have their own way of showing affection through their own cultural traditions. Although some of these holidays may not identically mirror the way the United States celebrates love, the message is ultimately the same. Whether it be love for one’s culture, love for a friendship, or the concept of love in general, most countries love to celebrate love! Celebrating the holiday of love according to your adopted child’s culture can help children stay in touch with their own roots and validate their experience of adoption. Love is universal, and can come in many forms and expressions.
Latin Americans traditional day of love is referred to as, “The Day of Love and Friendship”, or “El Día del Amor y la Amistad”. The holiday is broadly celebrated in this region more so than any other area of the world. Latin America celebrates Valentine’s Day not only with their partner, but with their friends and family as well.
In the Dominican Republic, those who celebrate Valentine’s Day will typically exchange “cariñitos”, which are gifts of love that can be shared amongst couples, families, and friends. In the Dominican Republic, this day falls on the same Valentine’s Day as the United States. Valentine’s Day in Colombia is celebrated on the third Saturday in September. While these countries recognize romantic love, a great emphasis is also placed upon celebrating the love of family and friendship. It is a common tradition to surprise friends with small tokens of love throughout Latin America, and many will exchange anonymous gifts at home, in the workplace, at school, or between their friend groups. The tradition is similar to the concept of “Secret Santa” that Americans practice around Christmas. Families who are adopting from these regions can celebrate this holiday by helping their children design or craft small gifts and exchanging them amongst other anonymous family members and/or friends.
The modern Valentine’s Day of China can celebrated through their annual “Qizi Festival” that takes place on the seventh day of the seventh lunar month of the Chinese calendar. It literally translates as, “Evening of Sevens Festival”, and is the country’s celebration of love rooted from folklore. Common traditions on this day include stargazing of Vega and Altair stars and baking “qiǎoguǒ”, which is a traditional sweet pastry that the Chinese enjoy on this special day. If you plan to celebrate this day with your adopted child, families can invest in a telescope for a night of stargazing or set time aside to bake qiǎoguǒ with their child.
Festival of the Dancing Masks in Burkina Faso, or “The Festival International des Masques et des Arts”, is a bi-annual festival that brings Burkinabe people together from over 40 different villages. Natives from all over the country wear masks and costumes to celebrate and can be found story telling or playing music. Although there is not a direct correlation between this holiday and the traditional Valentine’s Day celebrated in the U.S., it is clear that the people here share a love for their unique culture, art, and Burkinabe traditions. Families can celebrate this day with their adopted child and help preserve their roots through mask making or wearing the traditional Burkinabe attire on this day to celebrate.
Taiwan celebrates the day of love, “Qíngrén jié,” twice a year, on both February 14 and July 7. In Taiwan, this means the country is flooded with flowers on both days. Taiwanese men will traditionally buy their significant other roses, however the colors and the number of flowers are important indicators of how serious the relationship is. Red roses represent “an only love”, 11 roses symbolize “my favorite”, and if a woman is presented with 108 roses, it usually is an indication of marriage. If you choose to celebrate this tradition with your adopted child, try taking them flower shopping, or presenting them with the option to make their own bouquet for someone else.
Happy Valentine’s Day!