By Brittany Norris | Contributor
If you are getting bored with the standard Valentine’s Day rituals, never fear! There is an amazing world of romantic customs available to you. Leave the dozen roses and box of chocolates to the amateurs, and show the object of your affection just how cultured and passionate you are with any of these five traditions.
Here is your chance to take spooning to another level … with an actual spoon. As early as the 1600s, young men in Wales hand-carved “lovespoons.” These intricately crafted utensils featured a variety of symbols expressing the suitor’s intentions to his beloved. It was also an opportunity for the young man to impress the girl’s father with his woodworking skills. The tradition continues today in a much less formal version with lovespoons often given as decorations and Valentine’s Day gifts.
You could cook a treat for your love just like the Miao people in the Guizhou Province of China. They celebrate the equivalent of Valentine’s Day during their Sisters’ Rice Festival. The girls of the village dress in traditional and exquisite clothing, also cooking sticky rice in different colors as messages to the young men. After participating in the festivities that include being serenaded by the boys, the girls pass on the sticky rice to the lucky or unlucky recipients. Each gift of rice is wrapped in a handkerchief and includes a hidden message through a symbolic item. Two red chopsticks mean the girl likes the boy. Parsley indicates the desire for early marriage. Garlic however, or capsicum, is a straight up rejection.
Maybe you’re not the subtle type. If you want to be more straightforward than sticky rice, there is an ancient Nordic tradition just for you. In ancient Norway, if a girl was of the appropriate age for marriage she wore an empty sheath around her girdle. When a potential suitor came along, he would place a puukko knife in the sheath. Should the feelings be mutual, the girl would keep the knife. Leave it to the Vikings to be badass even with romance.
You could also woo your lucky love with some sweet moves. The African Wodaabe tribe, part of the Fulani Nation in Nigeria, places their own fabulous spin on courting during a week-long festival of flirtation called Yaki. The young men of the village dress and groom themselves so as to be the most attractive suitor, a process that includes elaborate and colorful make-up. The festival also involves a dance competition in which the men compete in front of the village women. The ladies watch and judge the performance, determining the winner based on attractiveness, vocal skills and dancing abilities.
Let’s say you really want to make an impression. Go big or go home, right? Take your cue from the Austrian couples of the 19th century. Their folk custom consisted of young women placing apple slices in their armpits while dancing. When the music stopped, the woman would offer the apple slice to a young man of her choice. If the guy were into it, he would eat the now sweaty slice.
Actually, maybe you should stick with the roses. It’s much more sanitary.
Whatever method you utilize this Valentine’s Day, be sincere and kind. Nothing will take you farther than an honest expression of love.