Love may be universal, but it’s recognized differently around the world.
They say that love makes the world go round, and what a vast array of romantic traditions the world has! Read on to learn about forbidden lovers, fancy spoons, and chicken livers! We’ve also included some classroom activities to help you inspire your students with your love of language.
1. Leaving Love Letters at the Casa di Giulietta
While this 13th-century palazzo is associated with a fictional character from Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet and was added to the city centuries after the play was written, visitors flock to Verona’s Casa di Giulietta to attach love letters to the building’s walls. If you can’t make the trip to Italy in person, you can still send a note, and it may get answered by a member of the volunteer “Juliet Club,” which receives close to 50,000 letters every year.
2. Gifting a Whale Tooth
In Fiji, nothing symbolizes love more than offering a tabua or whale tooth to the object of your affection. It’s believed that when the tooth has been polished, it becomes incredibly powerful, so anyone who receives a Tabua should feel quite flattered. Although, to be fair, most Fijians buy whale teeth these days instead of collecting them themselves.
3. Carving Lovespoons
In Wales, the best way to say “I love you” is with a carved spoon. Lovespoons date back hundreds of years to when men (often sailors on long journeys) would carve intricate designs illustrating their love, struggles, and religious and Celtic imagery into wooden spoons for their beloveds. If the giftee shared the giver’s feelings, they would wear the spoons around their neck. If the feeling was not mutual, the spoon would be returned. Today you can buy lovespoons ready-carved, and they can be given to any gender.
4. Chicken Liver Omens
The Duar people of China have a tradition where an engaged couple dissects a chicken and inspects its liver. If the liver is healthy, this is seen as a sign that the relationship will succeed. If the liver is sickly, the couple must keep searching until they find a healthy one. Once the right liver is found, the couple can set a date for their wedding and celebrate with their families.
5. Eat a Four-Leaf Clover
While most people know that finding a four-leaf clover is lucky, the benefit of eating them is less well-known. But this Irish tradition says that if a single person looking for a spouse eats a four-leaf clover while thinking about the person they love, this person will eventually be theirs. Another tradition states that if you put the clover in your shoe in the morning, the first unmarried person you see will be your future spouse. Both traditions sound easy, but the hard part is finding the clover. Like any good love story, the chances are 10,000 to one.
6. Love Locks
Although the tradition started in Rome, the Pont des Arts bridge in Paris is probably the most famous place for couples to attach locks, often carved with their initials, to proclaim their love for one another. Since 2008, hundreds of thousands of couples have “locked down” their love on the bridge and thrown the key into the Seine River. These keys have caused environmental damage, and the bridge can no longer withstand the weight of the locks, so the practice is now illegal. However, the custom continues in Italy, London, Budapest, Berlin, New York, and Prague.
Share the Love in Your Classroom!
Valentine’s Day isn’t just for romantic love, and you can use the holiday to create unique learning experiences for your students. Here are some fun activities to try:
What Valentine’s Day classroom activities would you add? Share them with the Language is Limitless Facebook group.
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Valentine’s Day isn’t just for romantic love, and you can use the holiday to create unique learning experiences for your students.