When we sat down to write something for Valentine’s Day, Joyce suggested we pen a “shout out” to our ever-supportive, loving, handsome husbands. (She is the lovey-dovey one). When Ellen mentioned the potential topic to her husband, he reminded us, “Bad idea! Have you two forgotten all you know about kinehoras?” Point taken.
But we do like the idea of a day set aside for love (and chocolate.)
Although they don’t call it Valentine’s Day like we do, almost every country has adopted the Western tradition of celebrating love for a day.
In Israel, the modern Valentine’s Day is called Tu b’Av (literally the 15th of the month of Av). In ancient times, it marked the beginning of the wine harvest and there was dancing in the vineyards. Tu B’Av is considered an auspicious day to get married because, according to tradition, Jewish weddings are not permitted for several weeks preceding Tisha b’Av (the 9th of Av, which is a solemn day, commemorating the destruction of both ancient Temples in Jerusalem.) Tu b’Av, the love day, is the first day of the month when a wedding is allowed. This year, the 15th of Av falls on August 14 — Ellen’s wedding anniversary. Auspicious indeed.
In Japan, Valentine’s Day is a two-part event. February 14 is the day when women give presents – chocolates or gifts – to male co-workers and friends, not just to lovers. There’s a chocolate hierarchy though: the cheap candy is called “giri,” which means “obligation” in Japanese. Like an office secret Santa gift, giri chocolate is given to acquaintances and co-workers. Expensive chocolate, called “honmei” is reserved for loved ones.
Putting these customs in terms we can relate to, if you get the last-minute drug-store brand chocolates in the fuzzy red heart-shaped box, you’ll know you’ve been giri-ed!
But it’s better than an e-valentine. “When you care enough to click the very best…” And we pity the woman whose valentine reads the newspaper ad we saw, that promised “Last minute valentine gifts for the desperate doter from $3.99” Oy!
Part two in Japan happens on March 14, a holiday known as White Day. Men who received gifts on Valentine’s Day are supposed to return the favor – but along with chocolate a traditional White Day gift to co-workers is ….. lingerie. As our American daughters would say: “A bra from your boss? Awkward…”
We’ll probably go with the tried and true. An old-fashioned paper greeting card with a cartoon animal couple – squirrels, bunnies or skunks – nagging, bickering and fretting. Then, open the card, they’re hugging and cuddling. Happy Valentine’s Day!