WASHINGTON - On February 14th, millions of Americans across the country celebrate Valentine’s Day.
Lovers present their beloved with cards, candies, flowers … or celebrate in other romantic ways.
International students in the Washington area shared their own plans for the day.
Oscar Reyes Gaido, who’s working on his Ph.D. at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland, said he’ll likely celebrate by having dinner with his girlfriend.
“It’s pretty much the same [way] that we celebrate in Honduras,” he said. “So we’ll probably just have dinner and watch a movie.”
Naomi Dirckx, also a Johns Hopkins University student, said her boyfriend is currently in the Netherlands.
“We have a long distance relationship now,” she said, but added that he plans to arrive on Valentine's Day, or the day after, and “we’ll definitely go for a nice dinner…and buy each other maybe a nice present.”
“But just him coming here is already super nice for Valentine,” she said. “Having some nice food together, some wine, and enjoy each other's company; I think it's really nice.”
Hung-Yeh Lee is a junior at George Washington University in Washington, majoring in International Affairs.
He explained that because he’s single, he and a group of his male and female buddies will probably “go to a restaurant, chat for a bit, and then go do a little karaoke.”
Named after Saint Valentine, the patron saint of lovers, the day is celebrated the world over.
Dirckx said that the holiday is very popular in the U.S., but it is also celebrated in the Netherlands.
“Of course it’s a very commercial thing,” she said, “There’s a lot of hearts and flowers for sale in the shops … but people do celebrate.”
Lee said in Taiwan, where he’s from, “people give chocolate to someone they like or have a crush on.”
“Mostly girls to boys first, and then on White Valentine’s Day, the boys will in return give the chocolate back to the girls,” he said.
A second Valentine
That second Valentine’s Day -- called White Day, or White Valentine’s Day -- is celebrated in Japan, Taiwan, China and other Asian countries, a month later, on March 14.
While Valentine’s Day became popular in Europe during the 19th century, White Valentine’s Day is a relatively recent phenomenon. It was reportedly invented by a Japanese confectioner in 1970s Japan. It started with the idea of presenting marshmallows as a gift of appreciation, but has since expanded to the gifting of white chocolates, white flowers and even white handkerchiefs!
Sisi Qiu, a freshman at George Washington University studying business administration, said people in China celebrate Valentine’s Day “just like they do in the U.S.
“But traditionally, I think it’s more of a boy thing -- like on Valentine’s Day the boys give chocolates to the girls they like, and after a month during White Valentine’s Day, the girls give back chocolate to the boys they like.”
But no matter which date is celebrated, it’s the sentiment behind Valentine’s Day that makes it truly unique.
Bryce Zhang, a computer science student in his last semester of a master’s program at George Washington University, says his plan is to create a video for a girl he’s been dating for two weeks.
It’s a way to express his emotions, he explained.
“I play acoustic guitar and she loves that, and I want to make some songs for her,” he said.“I have feelings for her and I think she has the same feelings for me.”