Love is unconditional and universal

February 14th is a day celebrated with flowers, candy, and cards all given to loved ones. But although these are common gifts and even celebrations in the United States, countries around the world have many different ways to celebrate on the 14th of February.


In the island nation of the Philippines, loving couples have the opportunity to be married alongside their best friend or even a family member on Valentine’s Day. In several government-sponsored wedding events held all over the island nation, couples can be married relatively free of charge in a mass wedding. Thousands of couples will gather to exchange nuptials with their significant other with the venue, flowers, wedding cake, banquets, gifts and sometimes even wedding rings free of charge. The weddings are celebrated in traditional Filipino fashion, but only allow eight guests per couple to attend. Couples must register ahead of time and come dressed in formal attire, which includes a formal wedding dress or white dress for women and barong Tagalog or other appropriate attire for men. Government officials regulate and officiate the events. These may be mayors or tribe leaders depending on the region. These events are created to increase national pride and increase international tourism to the islands.


From the Philippines to Western Africa, the country of Ghana chooses to celebrate National Chocolate Day along with Valentine’s Day on February 14th. The holiday was established by the government in 2005. This country located on the Western coast of Africa bordering the Gulf of Guinea is the world’s second largest exporter of cocoa, or chocolate. Establishing and promoting this holiday is a formulated way for the Ghanaian government to raise national pride and increase domestic tourism. Citizens in the cities of Ghana including the capital of Accra celebrate by gifting each other traditional Ghanaian chocolate as Valentine’s Day gifts. Unfortunately the farmers in the countryside who harvest and cultivate the cocoa plants do not get to participate in this extravagant holiday. Organizations such as the University of Ghana Business School are working to promote the hardworking cocoa farmers in Ghana who are the backbone of the country’s economy.


Lastly the country of Finland focuses on an uncommonly celebrated element of traditional Valentine’s Day. Valentine’s Day in Finnish is called ystävänpäïvä, which is translated to Friends Day. Finnish communities started celebrating Friendship Day in the 1980s, and the holiday has officially been included in the country’s calendars since 1996. Most Finnish citizens celebrate the holiday by gifting cards to their friends to show their love and appreciation. The National Finnish Postal Service, or Posti, as well as the Finnish Red Cross were some of the first organizations to create cards for the relatively new holiday. Brunches and dinners with friends and family are common ways to celebrate the holiday. It is also popular to participate in sports such as bowling, skating and sledding with friends on Friendship Day.


The idea of Friendship Day is very appealing in the U.S. as the holiday has become more focused on the celebration of couples in recent years. Popular celebration names such as Palentine’s Day or Galentine’s Day celebrate friendship in the U.S.


“I imagine the celebration of Friends Day in Finland would welcome a larger group of people to celebrate,” said Spanish teacher Mr. Kurt Paprocki, “Sometimes, Valentine’s Day can feel like a specific holiday only for those with a significant other. Good friends need to be recognized, as well, and exchanging chocolates and gifts to close friends would be a wonderful way of recognizing important people in your life, regardless of whether or not the relationship is romantic.”


“I would definitely love to celebrate in Finland!” answered sophomore Bridget Martin, “I feel like love isn’t just romantic and showing it in a platonic way with your friends is always nice and shows how much you care.”


Reflecting on all of these celebrations, Valentine’s Day can be a celebration for everyone. Whether one chooses to celebrate with friends, food, or even a wedding, it is important to show appreciation and care for loved ones. It is also important to show everyone love, even those who do not have anyone to celebrate with.