Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day, and the Internet is full of posts about the most romantic places around the world. But, what if you’re stuck at home?
Sure, I’d rather be off having a candle lit dinner in Parisian café, or lounging with my loved one in a hammock on any island in the Caribbean, but travel during this time of year isn’t currently possible. However, last year, for our first Valentine’s Day together, Jeff solved this problem for me.
We hadn’t been dating for very long, but Jeff and I shared a love of travel. He knew that for me, it was one of my greatest loves. But, since bringing me abroad to celebrate just wasn’t in the cards, Jeff told me to get dressed up, but our plans were a surprise.
When I got to his apartment, he met me outside, and I figured we would just be heading out to eat, but he said he left his wallet upstairs. He was a good actor, but I felt like something was up. Still, I was not prepared for what was in store for me.
While on the elevator up to his apartment, he asked me how I would spend my ideal Valentine’s Day. I responded, “Anywhere but home.”
He laughed, knowing that was exactly what I would say. As soon as he opened up the door to his place, I was immediately transported.
Thai music was playing, there were lanterns hanging from the ceiling, and a table was set and lit up with candles. A globe was strategically placed near the table, and I noticed that there were X’s on different countries. Since Jeff couldn’t actually take me around the world, he decided to bring the world to me.
For each country, there was music, an activity, food, and/or alcohol; it was the perfect way to spend the night. While, Jeff said he could have gone on and on with many different countries, he decided to leave it at just a few, so he chose the ones whose traditions he liked best.
In Slovenia, Valentine’s Day is started by working in the vineyard, which meant that the celebrations would be kicked off with a bottle of wine. Not a bad way to start the night!
Boyfriends, lovers, and husbands are given chocolate, which is usually home-made by their loved ones. For this, Jeff did not make chocolate, but instead, he headed to a local Japanese store and bought Japanese chocolate. He also bought sake, which obviously made me fall in love with him, and Japan, a little bit more.
Though they have many Valentine’s Day traditions, Jeff celebrated by giving me a lover’s card, which is a greeting card for the holiday, and a white flower, traditionally called a snowdrop.
In Italy, most couples go out on romantic dates with their significant others. An older tradition was for young girls to pin their lover’s name on their sleeves, so Jeff handed me a cutout of his name to wear. Also popular, giving Baci Perugina, a favorite candy of mine. These chocolate-covered hazelnuts are not only delicious, but they also contain a small slip of paper with a romantic quote in four languages. The Italians sure know romance.
Jeff couldn’t find much for Valentine’s Day in India, as it is more of an American holiday, but since I have always dreamed of visiting India, he had to include it. He decided to make his own tradition, so he handed me an apron, and we cooked Chicken Vindaloo. Little did Jeff know, that cooking wasn’t exactly a skill I possessed, but we had so much fun making the meal together, I stopped worrying and it actually came out great.
In China, Valentine’s Day is also known as the Daughter’s Festival, and on this night, unmarried girls offer prayers to the Weaving Maid star. They also put a needle on the water surface and if the needle doesn’t sink, it means she is ready to marry. Jeff made me perform this task, which I must say was very brave of him, though I don’t remember what the result was. Then, we feasted on a dessert of Chinese pastries that Jeff had picked up from China Town.
I never wanted our night of foreign destinations to end, as this was a much better celebration than traditional red roses and chocolates in a heart-shaped box. Instead, it was a unique, and well-thought out celebration, of who we are and what makes our relationship so special. I can’t think of a more perfect way to spend a holiday.