Valentine’s Day is not a universal tradition at Langara

Cupid may seem strange for many students

The colour red will likely make an appearance as novelty gifts are passed around on Feb.14. Photo: Kevin de Mulder via Flickr
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Reported by Missy Johnson

As Valentine’s Day affections are spread around Langara College this week, the traditions associated with it may seem unusual to the school’s culturally diverse student body.

Langara sociology instructor Gagun Chhina said not every culture around the world celebrates Valentine’s Day the same way Canadians will, although many do have traditional romantic events.

“Most cultures have a day where they celebrate love,” Chhina said.

But the pink decorations, candy hearts, flowers and Hallmark cards will still be abnormal for many international students, who make up one-third of Langara’s enrolment, according to statistics from last fall.

Not accepted everywhere

Some cultures believe the Western version of courting and love is counter to their traditions.

“When they have their own customs, they see it as a dilution of their own practices,” Chhina said.

In Pakistan, where Langara student Haider Mehdi is from, Valentine’s Day was banned in 2017.

“They don’t take this thing that well over there,” Mehdi said. “It is still very much a taboo.”

Similar, but different

While some countries don’t celebrate or even allow Valentine’s Day, other countries have a similar version of the holiday.

“Cultures are constantly borrowing and sharing things with one another,” said Langara anthropology instructor Adam Solomonian.

South Korea has White Day in April, where women and girls present chocolates and gifts to the men in their lives. Brazil celebrates Dia dos Namorados, which translates to Lover’s Day, in June.

According to Chhina, celebrating romantic love is common practice in most places around the world.

Langara student Steven Zhao said China doesn’t have Valentine’s Day, but it does have the Qixi Festival, which is similar.

“We just celebrate the ones we love,” Zhao said.

Canada’s commercialized version

The average Canadian will spend $164 on Valentine’s Day, according to a survey done by RetailMeNot.ca.

But not every Canadian agrees with the commercial nature of the country’s celebration.

“I think you should just show that you love each other every day, not just one day a year,” Langara student Cynthia Turnbull said.

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