February 13, 2021

How Do I Love Thee

How Do I Love Thee? Let me count the ways.

Elizabeth Barret Browning penned these words that open her love sonnet from the 1800’s.  It is often repeated around Valentine’s Day (Feb. 14th) and inspires many to announce their love through letters, cards, and proposals.

Since the 19th century, handwritten notes have given way to mass-produced greeting cards. Many still take the time to add personal notes on their cards, but The Young Men’s Valentine Writer of 1797 no long provides suggested verses for the young lover unable to compose his own.

Since 2001, the Greeting Card Association has given out the annual “Esther Howland Award for a Greeting Card visionary.  Esther, with paper lace and floral decorations from England, and inspiration from an English Valentine, produced and sold embossed paper lace valentines in Massachusetts shortly after 1847. 


Will you share your love with someone today?  Can you write about it?

You might write about all the things you love about this person.

Perhaps you’d rather writer about how this person makes you feel.

And maybe you just want to write about Valentine’s Day celebrations around the world.

Customs and Cultures

Our Valentine’s Day customs, of sending greeting cards, flowers, and chocolates, have spread throughout the world – some without approval.

According to Wikipedia, countries call the celebration different names and their cultures either approve or not the “Western Way”.

Latin America – Day of Lovers

Guatemala – Affection Day

Dominican Republic/El Salvador – Secret Friend Day

Brazil – Lovers’ Day celebrated in June.

Columbia – Day of Love and Friendship in September

Afghanistan – poetry shared privately.

China – Chinese Valentine’s Day celebrated on the 7th day of the 7th month of the lunar calendar. Also known as “The Night of Sevens”.

India – in modern times, Hindu and Islamic traditionalist have considered the holiday to be cultural contamination from the west. But the younger generations started celebrating it around 1992. PDA (public display of affection)  is forbidden amongst right wing Hindu nationalists.

Iran – Valentine’s Day is not accepted/approved by any institution or rule in the country and has no official status.  It is accepted among a large part of the population but is harshly criticized by Islamic teachers.

Israel – the Jewish equivalent of Valentine’s Day is celebrated on the 15th day of August.  It is a popular day to proclaim love, propose marriage, and give gifts like cards or flowers.

Japan – introduced the holiday for the first time in 1936. It ran an ad aimed at foreigners. In 1953 it began promoting the giving of hear-shaped chocolates.  In Japan, the romantic “date night” associated with Valentine’s Day is celebrated on Christmas Eve.

Lebanon – Saint Valentine is the patrol saint for a large part of the Lebanese population.  As such, they celebrate either as couples or an entire family.  Many women are asked to marry on that day.

Malaysia – The West Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister has labeled Valentine’s Day is “associated with elements of Christianity” and “wee cannot get involved with other religions’ worshipping rituals.”   In 2011 over 100 Muslim couples were arrested concerning the celebration ban.  In Eastern Malaysia, the celebration is tolerated among young Muslim couples.

Pakistan – In 2016 the local governing body of Peshawar officially banned the celebration of Valentine’s Day in the city.  In 2017 the Islamabad High Court banned Valentine’s Day celebrations in public places in Pakistan.

Philippines – It is the most popular day for weddings and is celebrated much like the west.

Saudi Arabia – in 2002 and 2008, religious police banned the sale of all valentine’s Day items because they too consider it a western religious holiday. In 2017 and 2018 the religious police did not prevent Muslims from celebrating the day.

Singapore – According to industry reports, Singaporeans are among the  biggest spenders on Valentine’s Day, with 60% of them reporting spending between $100 and $500 during the season leading up to the holiday.

South Korea – on Feb. 14th , Women give Chocolate to Men, and Men give non-chocolate candy to women on March 14th (White Day). On April 14th, those who did not receive anything on those two days go to a Chinese-Korean restaurant to eat black noodles and lament their single life.

Taiwan – Valentine’s Day and White Day are celebrated, but the presents are reversed (Men to Women on Feb 14th and Women to Men in March.).

United Kingdom – where the first Valentine’s Day cards were created, just under half the population celebrates spending on cards, flowers, chocolates, and other gifts with an estimated 25 million cards being sent.

Ireland – many individuals who seek true love make a Christian pilgrimage to the Shrine of St. Valentine in Whitefriar Street Carmelite Church in Dublin. They pray at the shrine in hope of finding romance.

Finland and Estonia – Friends Day is celebrated and is more about remembering friends, not significant others.

France – a traditionally Catholic country, Valentine’s Day is celebrated in much the same way as other western countries.

Greece – Valentine’s Day is celebrated in the common western tradition.

Portugal – the holiday is known as Lovers’ Day and couples exchange gifts.

Romania – a spring festival has been rekindled after the Communist years and in lieu of the “superficial, commercial, and imported Western” holiday.  It is commonly observed on February 24th.

Scandinavia – celebrates Valentine’s Day in much the same manner as in the UK since 1960’s.

Spain – joins the Western celebrations.

How Do I Love Thee?

No matter how you celebrate, when you celebrate or why you celebrate – write about your day in your Journal. Share your story for future generations.

Answer the questions your offspring and their families might ask – What did you see in your partner that convinced you to marry him/her?

Was it love at first sight and if you, what did that feel like?

If you’ve been together a long time, what challenges have you overcome to remain in love?

And answer the ultimate question posed in the 1800’s – “How Do I Love Thee?  Let Me Count The Ways.”

Happy Valentine’s Day.

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