9    Feb 20090 comments

Celebrate Valentine’s Day in China

Chinese valentines picture Although Valentine's Day, or February the 14th, originated in the West, with globalization intensifying, younger Chinese have started to celebrate this special occasion too, conveying romance to their beloved ones on this day.

However, the way people celebrate it in China differs from how the day is honoured in Western countries: girls make a gift like needlework to give to their loved one during Valentine's day, then, one month later, it is the man's turn to give something to the girls. Heart-shaped soft toys and jewellery are the common presents for girls. Celebrations in Japan and Korea are very similar.

In big cities like Shanghai, some departmental stores are even organizing kissing contests where

...hundreds of Chinese couples gather together and kiss their partners in front of an audience. The couple that kiss for the longest time then win amazing prizes: matching diamond rings, designer clothes or a dream holiday.

What is more, if you fancy a romantic night out and stay in a fabulous hotel, many Chinese hotels will give you a Valentine's discount, and authorities don't ask for any marriage certificates when you check in (yes, it is a legal requirement for hotels in China to check on marriage certificates before allowing couples in, but not during Valentine's).

You may wonder whether the Chinese have a day devoted to love and romance? Yes, we do. The Chinese Valentine's Day is actually celebrated on the 7th of the 7th lunar month in the Chinese calendar. It is on 26 August this year. There is not so much emphasis on flowers and chocolates, instead, couples go to temples and pray for their love or for a possible marriage. Girls who are still single will ask for luck in love in the temple.

There is a romantic love story behind the 26th of August: the 7th daughter of Emperor of Heaven and a poor orphaned cowherd boy fell in love, but the Emperor separated them by creating a Milky Way. The 7th princess moved to the star Vega and the cowherd stayed on the star Altair. The story goes that they are allowed to meet only once a year on the day of 7th day of 7th lunar month. Even today, some older people may sit outdoors to observe the stars on this day and they would say that you could probably overhear what the 7th princess and the cowherd are talking about...

No-one really ever hears the conversation but it shows the spirit of romance is alive and well in China.

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