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Strangest Valentine’s Day traditions around the world revealed

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A couple making a heart shape with their hands
Valentine’s Day: not all countries will be celebrating the occasion in the same way this month | Photo: Matt Nelson

While Brits tend to buy a bunch of roses or visit a nice restaurant, Valentine’s Day traditions for some countries can be a lot less conventional. 

“It might not come as a surprise that other nations are more creative in their romantic pursuits, and whilst some traditions are still going strong around the world today, others have evolved over the years, while some are even banned,” says Huw Owen, co-founder at tailor-made holiday platform TravelLocal.

Valentine’s Day struggled to gain traction in 2023 amid a cost-of-living crisis and spending estimated to have fallen 19% year-on-year, according to a Mintel report. And, love aside, we are spending less on romantic celebrations, with the average spend per person being £23 according to a survey commissioned by Finder, as well as data from GCA and Statista.

However, it is not stopping people to celebrate the occasion. To mark Valentine’s Day on the 14th February, we selected five of the lesser known, obscure Valentine’s Day celebrations around the world, and how they have changed over the years.

Italy: waiting by the window for the single ones | Photo: Angel Bena

Italy

Of course, taking the top spot has to be the region of love where Valentine’s Day originated. The Roman Empire and the legend of Saint Valentine paved the way for romance today. In Italy, Valentine’s Day is often called La Festa Degli Innamorati meaning ‘the feast of lovers’ and is strictly for lovers only.

Going back in time, a more unusual tradition was for unmarried women to wake before dawn on Valentine’s Day and stand by the window, waiting for a single man to pass. Some believed that the first man she saw would be the one she married.

Fast forward to the present day, Italians will often celebrate by gifting chocolates and flowers but also, a new tradition has seen the ‘locks of love’ or ‘lucchetti dell’ amore’ – become popularised. This sees young lovers attach padlocks to bridges and railings and throw away the key to show eternal love.  Although once a charming way to prove one’s commitment, to allow the monument or bridge to last without damage, we would perhaps avoid throwing away the key and instead bring the padlock home. The intact structure of our beautiful cities will thank you for it! 

How to say ‘I love you’: Ti Amo 

France: love lottery has now been banned

France

Valentine’s Day in France is more subtle and less commercialised than in some other  countries. The French prefer to celebrate with romantic and traditional gestures such as gifting chocolates and flowers. It’s nothing out of the ordinary, but things weren’t so subtle back in the day…

Now banned in France, is ‘loterie d’amour’ or ‘drawing for love’. This involved single people getting together in a house or on a street to be paired together. If the man wasn’t attracted to the woman he was paired with, he could leave her. It’s reported that the women left behind would then get together to burn pictures of the men whilst shouting curses.

How to say ‘I love you’: Je t’aime  

Argentina: kisses are exchanged for sweet treats in July

Argentina

As well as celebrating Valentine’s Day with the more traditional, universal activities, Argentinians also celebrate ‘Sweetness Week’ in July, where kisses are exchanged for sweet treats such as chocolates. It started as a commercial invention but is now a tradition each year. Who needs one day when you can have a whole week?

How to say I love you: Te amo 

Japan: not all chocolates are equal | Photo: Budgeron Bach

Japan

In Japan, it’s common for women to gift all the men in their lives chocolates on Valentine’s Day – from boyfriends to coworkers – but not all chocolates are equal…

The more special men in their lives receive ‘honmei choco’ or ‘true feeling’ chocolates and the less special will get ‘giri choco’ or ‘obligatory chocolates’ or even ‘tomo-choco’, which translates to ‘friend chocolate’. Interestingly, men don’t gift anything back until March 14th, known as ‘white day’ – where gifts must greatly exceed the value of what was gifted by the female.

How to say I love you: aishite imasu 

Spain: Flowers and books gifted between partners on St George’s Day

Spain 

Whilst the Spanish do often celebrate the usual Valentine’s Day traditions in Valencia, the ‘day of love’ actually falls on 9th October during the Feast of St Dionysus. On this day it’s common for people to make and give their loved one a ‘macadora’ – a marzipan figurine – a symbol of their love together.

Further north in Catalonia, the ‘day of love’ is celebrated on St George’s Day, April 23rd. In the past the woman would gift a book to the man in their life, whilst the man would offer the woman a single rose. Fast forward to the present day, it’s common for books and roses to be gifted between partners on St George’s Day. As it’s also ‘The Day of the Book’, the streets of Barcelona are filled with stalls of booksellers and florists, bringing to life a shared celebration of love and culture.

How to say I love you: te quiero or when in Valencia – t’estime

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Model-turned-comedian to star in BBC fashion drama

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Model-turned-comedian to star in BBC fashion drama
Written, created by and starring British actor Michelle De Swarte, Spent launches this Summer

A new six-part comedy-drama created by and starring Michelle De Swarte (The Baby, The Duchess) will premiere this summer on BBC Two and BBC iPlayer.

‘Spent’ is produced by BAFTA award-winning production company Various Artists Ltd. (Juice, I May Destroy You, Such Brave Girls, Sally4Ever). It is part-inspired by Swarte’s own experiences of the modelling industry and the trials and tribulations that come along with it. Michelle de Swarte stars as Mia, a former catwalk model who is on the run, mainly from herself. Long term it’s a story of personal renewal but for now, the stark reality is that her career is over, she’s flat broke and she’s homeless.

Alongside Swarte, the series stars Juliette Cowan, Amanda Wilkin, Matt King, Jamali Maddix, Karl Collins, Eleanor Nawal and Rachel Ofori.

Born in South London, Michelle De Swarte was scouted at 19 whilst working in Segaworld in the Trocedero Centre at Picadilly Circus. Soon after, Swarte moved to New York where she worked for major major fashion houses round the world including Burberry, Missoni, Tommy Hilfiger, Cartier, and Michael Kors. However, Swarte’s career as a runway model stopped abruptly and she moved back to London with nothing to show for her time in the fashion industry. Having to re-evaluate her career, Swarte transitioned to stand-up comedy and acting where she has starred as a series regular in Katherine Ryan’s series The Duchess for Netflix and had her first leading role in Sky/HBO’s The Baby.

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UK Police officer who ran down cow removed from duties

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UK Police officer who ran down cow removed from duties
The incident took place on Friday on a residential street in Staines-upon-Thames, UK at around 9pm

An officer who was driving a response police car to ram an escaped cow twice has been removed from frontline duties, Surrey Police has confirmed in a statement released on Sunday, June 16th.

The incident took place on Friday on a residential street in Staines-upon-Thames, UK, at around 9pm, where the animal was hit in front of members of the public.

“I fully appreciate the distress our handling of this incident has caused and will ensure that it is thoroughly and diligently investigated. In addition to an internal referral to our Professional Standards Department, we have also referred the matter to the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) for independent consideration,” said Deputy Chief Constable Nev Kemp.

“At this time, the officer who was driving the police car has been removed from frontline duties pending the outcome of these investigations.

“I know there is much concern around the current welfare of the cow. She is now back with her owner and recuperating with her herd. She did sustain a large cut to one leg and cuts and grazes. She continues to be monitored by a vet and our rural officers are staying in contact with the owner for updates.

“I can confirm that on the night, efforts were made to contact local vets without success and efforts were simultaneously being made to identify the owner.  Why these were unsuccessful and what more could and should have been done will form a key part of the investigation.

“As well as our overriding duty to protect the public, the welfare of animals is important to us and we know people want answers about how this happened and what led up to it. I am committed to ensuring that we have a full understanding of what took place and why, and we will fully support any investigation. I have also briefed the Home Office on what action we are taking and we are liaising with several animal charities that have been in touch with us about this incident.  

 “We will continue to provide both our local communities and the wider public with updates as investigations into this matter continue”.

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Appetite for Ozempic boost Novo Nordisk brand value up 59%

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A woman checks her toned image in a mirror
Novo Nordisk emerges as Denmark’s second most valuable and second fastest-growing brand | Photo: Szabolcs Toth

Novo Nordisk, the pharmaceutical company producing semaglutide drugs Ozempic and Wegovy which are in high demand for weight loss, is now Denmark’s second most valuable brand according to new data from Brand Finance, the world’s leading brand valuation consultancy. Second only to LEGO, Novo Nordisk is valued at DKK35.4 billion, up 59%. Now also Denmark’s second-fastest growing brand, Novo Nordisk has surpassed  LVMH to become Europe’s most valuable company by market cap.

LEGO is Denmark’s most valuable brand for the ninth consecutive year, with a 3% brand value increase to DKK55.2 billion. With an AAA Brand Strength Index (BSI) rating, LEGO also remains Denmark’s strongest brand, underscoring decades of built-up brand equity and enduing nostalgia, demonstrated by excellent scores for familiarity, satisfaction, and consideration.

Tryg is Denmark’s fastest-growing brand, up 62% to DKK11.0 billion. Brand Finance data shows the brand is well-known and highly reputable across Denmark.

David Haigh, Chairman and CEO, Brand Finance, commented:

“The massive and unrelenting demand for semaglutide has led to Wegovy and Ozempic supply shortages while also dramatically raising brand awareness for Novo Nordisk. With projected sales growth of 19-24% for 2024, the pharmaceutical company must expand production while strategically positioning its brand to stay ahead of emerging competitors. If Novo Nordisk manages its brand well while successfully meeting demand for its products, it could surpass LEGO in the 2025 rankings, blocking LEGO from a decade-long reign as Denmark’s most valuable brand.”

Vestas, Danfoss, and ROCKWOOL are Denmark’s strongest industrial brands. Vestas (brand value up 6% to DKK23.9 billion), the strongest industrial brand with a BSI score of 82.4 out of 100 and an AAA- rating, notes high scores across several brand strength metrics, including reputation and promotion. Danfoss (brand value up 10% to DKK12.4 billion) ranks second, with an AA+ rating. ROCKWOOL (brand value DKK3.6 billion) maintains an AA+ rating and ranks as Denmark’s third strongest industrial brand, boasting a BSI score of 75.3 out of 100. ROCKWOOL performs well across brand strength metrics, such as promotion and its ability to command a price premium.

As part of its brand valuations, Brand Finance analyses the contribution of sustainability on overarching brand value. Brand Finance quantifies brands’ sustainability perceptions in its Sustainability Perceptions Index. According to Brand Finance research, Vestas is recognised as the most sustainable Danish industrial brand across the environmental and social dimensions of ESG (environmental, social, and governance). ROCKWOOL ranked second across all three ESG dimensions among Danish industrial brands, attributed to its commitment to climate resilience and sustainability.

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