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5 Romantic Traditions You Might Not Know

February 15th, 2012

Photo credit: D Sharon Pruitt

Love is in the air! Valentine’s Day might be over but around the world different cultures are gearing up to celebrate love and friendship in their own way.

When you’re finally full of chocolate and candy, check out this list of 5 Romantic Traditions you may not know.

Shanghai Marriage Market (China)

Photo credit: Maxime Guilbot

It may not be romantic, but it certainly is one way of getting things done. Every Saturday and Sunday, hundreds of parents in Shanghai meet up at People’s Square Park – regardless the weather – with one goal in mind. To find a suitable partner for their children at the Shanghai Marriage Market. With or without their children’s consent.

It’s like a real-life version of the Craigslist personals section, where parents can (and do!) arrange meetings or dates with potential matches. They carry a single sheet of paper with all the important details about their sons or daughters – the usual stuff, like age, height, and education, but also whether they have a job, their salary, if they’ve studied abroad, and if they own their own apartment.

Why? Some children are too busy with work to devote time to meeting a life partner. Some just need that extra push in the right direction. But at least it gets the awkward “meeting the folks” moment out of the way!

Lovelocks (Europe)

Photo credit: Leo Gonzales

Although there are no certain sources for their origin, Love padlocks, or lovelocks, have existed for awhile. Their appearance in Europe started in the early 2000s, although the reasons vary from location to location. In Rome, it is believed the ritual of affixing lovelocks to the bridge Ponte Milvio is due to the book, I Want You, by Italian author Federico Moccia.

Locks on the bridge Most Ljubavi (the Bridge of Love, named for the padlocks) in Serbia might be traced back to before World War II, and the tale of a broken hearted schoolmistress from Vrnjačka Banja. When her Serbian officer fiance broke off their engagement, the schoolmistress died from the loss. Young girls from the town, in an effort to protect their own loves, would write their name, with the name of their love, on padlocks, and affix them to the bridge where the lovers used to meet.

But despite the (sad) romantic sentiment, lovelocks are also considered quite the nuisance. Several bridges in Paris were festooned with locks from visitors and locals a like, but in 2010, Paris Town Hall expressed concerns over their growing numbers, stating, “they raise problems for the preservation of our architectural heritage.” The lovelocks disappeared suddenly after that, but the Administration denied responsibility. They started to appear again almost immediately at the Pont de l’Archevêché.

Dia dos Namorados (Brazil)

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

Brazilians don’t celebrate Valentine’s Day in February (probably because of Carnival). Instead, they celebrate Dia dos Namorados (which translates to “Lover’s Day” or “Boyfriend’s/Girlfriends’ Day”) on June 12, because it is the eve of Saint Anthony, a Portuguese monk and the patron saint of matrimony.

Traditionally, they exchange gifts, chocolates, cards, and bouquets, and many single women will perform popular rituals, called simpatias, in order to find a suitable partner, like praying to St Anthony for a husband. Or writing the names of three potential boyfriends on little pieces of paper and placing them under a pillow on the eve of Saint Anthony’s day. The one they drew out the next morning would be their love.

There was also the practice of bullying or “threatening” St Anthony’s image to get him to help, i.e. leaving his image, upside down and behind a door, until the right man comes along!

Tu B’av (Israel)

Considered in modern day Israel a minor Jewish holiday, Tu B’Av is celebrated as a holiday of love, similar to Valentine’s Day, in the latter part of August (the fifteenth day of Av).

According to the Talmud, Tu B’Av was a joyous holiday in the days of the Temple in Jerusalem which marked the beginning of the grape harvest. (Yom Kippur marks the end of the grape harvest.) In biblical times, on both dates, the unmarried girls of Jerusalem would dress in white and dance in the vineyards.

Today, the holiday has become a popular day for weddings, proposals, and romantic

Fast Food Fantasy Weddings

Photo credit: McDonald’s Hong Kong

Not traditional yet, or even very romantic, this one is definitely worth mentioning. In the financial district in Hong Kong, couples can have a fast food-catered wedding courtesy of McDonald’s! According to Reuters, “McWeddings” are decorated with pink balloons, and a wedding cake made with McDonald’s apple pies!

This service, which only just started January 2011,costs a mere $1,282, and includes golden-arches invitations, wedding gifts, decorations with Ronald McDonald and the Hamburgla. For an additional $165 you can even rent a wedding gown!

Pizza Hut (United States) is also getting in on the romance game – for 2012 they announced an unsual new service, and it’s all in the box! Anyone looking to “pop the question” on Valentine’s Day and willing to shell out $10,010 ($10,000 for the package, $10 for the pizza) will get limo service, a ruby engagement ring (who wants diamonds?) flowers, a personal fireworks display, and a videographer. And, of course, the pizza, breadsticks and cinnamon sticks that come in the box dinner.

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