Je t’aime, Ich liebe dich, Ti Amo, Kimi o aishiteru, Nu’ umi unangwa’ta, I love you! There are hundreds of ways to say it and hundreds of ways to show it around the world. Interested to learn about love and affection in different cultures? Or are you looking for some tips to show a special someone a love that is “out of this continent”? Well, take a look below at how lovers on other parts of the globe romanticize their partners.
The French language is known across the map as “the language of love.” If you take a trip to France, you will see an abundance of handholding, perhaps near the Eiffel Tower, as it is the French’s favoured PDA locale. In order to fulfill a Paris-inspired date, be sure to have nice champagne and great food. Fun fact: The French culture is so intertwined with love that many romance movies cast actors with French accents for this reason alone.
On Valentine’s Day, cards are considered paramount, as the tradition is believed to have started in the country itself during the middle ages. The cards are called cartes d’amities.
But here’s an interesting fact: a now long banned tradition called une loterie de l’amour involved single men and women gathering to face each other. They would yell out to one another and pair off, but if a man didn’t like his partner, he could abandon her. Said abandoned women would then band together to create a bonfire and burn the images of their ex-lovers, cursing their names. (Yes, the French are passionate.)
Trailing through the dirt country roads of Germany, you will find a vast variety of wild and beautiful flowers. Men and women in this country both give and receive flowers. This would most definitely be a bonus for Western women who are usually baffled on what to get their guy for Valentine’s Day, which is known in Germany as Valentinstag. However, for the Germans, love is generally expressed all year round, and gifts are exchanged on a regular basis rather than just the designated day of love. And after an exchange of flowers, a date in Germany would never be complete without two mandatory things – beer and song!
In all Irish relationships, partners are devoted to being respectful to their other half as well as their families. The Irish are best known for their Claddagh Ring, which was given to women as a sign of faith and love by their husbands when he went away for a while, usually to war. It shows two hands holding a heart, usually with a crown atop it. It is now more often passed down to daughters from mothers. When the ring is worn on the right hand, it suggests the wearer is single and looking, while worn reverse on the same hand signifies the wearer is in a relationship, on the left hand it signifies engagement, while in reverse on the left hand signifies marriage.
An old myth of love in Ireland is that when you meet that special person, you’ll feel a desire to run barefoot through the hills and tumble in the grass. Think about the perfect Irish date – laying in a meadow for your love, picking four leaf clovers and then dancing away to good old Irish bands. Idyllic, no?
Italy has a long history of arranged marriages. It was not uncommon for those in love to run away and elope without permission. But Italian weddings today can also often be over the top with huge crowds, white dresses, big cakes and tons of presents, as well as tons of food and dancing, while weddings on a Sunday are considered to be the luckiest.
Camogli in Liguria, Italy is also considered to be one of the most romantic little towns in the world. For example, every year in the week leading up to Valentine’s Day, couples write their names on red heart cards and link them to the fishing nets on the harbor wall. Those that manage to stay attached through to the end of the week are the lovers who will stay together—or at least that’s how the story goes…
And how do we know Italy is romantic? Well, that’s where Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet took place, of course!
The Japanese share another culture with a long history of arranged marriages, even today, at least 10% of marriages continue to be arranged. Western culture has taken over many traditional aspects of Japanese love and dating, as it has with other cultures as well. Instead of wearing the traditional kimono at their weddings, many women find themselves in Western style white wedding dresses. For those who like to go traditional, weddings are complete with a kimono, a priest, a few family and friends, and a drink of sake to purify their entrance to marriage.
But one unique Japanese love tradition is that of paper folding. A special origami creates what is known as a “lover’s knot”, a written message sealed in by paper folding. If anyone else reads it, it will always be known, as the paper can never be folded exactly the same way twice.
The Japanese poetry Haiku, is another way to express love and flirtation. But a Haiku within the lover’s knot? Well, then you’re just playing with fire!
The Native Americans
Love in the Native American culture does not begin and end with a significant other. Native Americans are passionate about loving and adoring their families from their parents to their children. Part of life as a Native American is finding a path that will ultimately lead to happiness. A symbol of development in this culture is a dream catcher. Dream catchers are traditional wall hangings, normally in bedrooms of Native American homes. They are used to catch the dreams of a person and hold them near. In this culture, giving a special someone a dream catcher shows them that you are interested in them and they are what they dream about.
Western influences have had a profound impact on love and affection around the world. Today, the entire world can associate kissing, passion, marriage and sappiness as “love”. However, as you can see, some cultures still hold true to their very unique and traditional signs of love and affection.
If you know other traditional expressions of love from your own culture, comment below and share your traditions!