Roses are red, love is in the air, it’s Valentine’s Day! And to celebrate this lovely – … – opportunity to spend time with those we cherish, Babel Tower Keepers invite you to join them on a cruise from Oceania to Africa, from South America to Europe, to discover what the 14th of February looks like in Australia, Benin, Costa Rica, Honduras and France!
AUSTRALIA, by Siobhan Reardon
I’m sure people are expecting something extremely interesting when it comes to dating in Australia. Maybe riding to the location of the date on the back of a kangaroo? I’m sorry to say that this is not the case. When it comes to, pretty much everything, Australia mostly follows the rest of the world.
As in other countries, when it comes to a heterosexual couple, the man is usually expected to pay for the date (however as society becomes more progressive I would say this is definitely changing). It’s also looked highly upon if he takes the woman to the date and, if this is the case, he is expected to drive her home as well. Other than these things, there isn’t really a special event or gesture that is made by either partner on a date in Australia.
One thing that is different between dating in Australia and other countries is how dates are generally a lot more laid back and casual. I think people are a lot more open to group dates than in other parts of the world, say like the USA, most likely just to make people feel more at ease in a dating environment. Honestly, the dating scene is pretty relaxed in Australia and is primarily based on what makes the couple comfortable and happy, rather than conforming to a kind of idealised image of dating. It’s, honestly, pretty simple, I would say.
BENIN, by Iman Eyitayo
I’ve never celebrated Valentin’s day, since I grew up in a city where, I think, nobody cared. I only learnt about that celebration though TV and books, and how people would give their loved ones chocolate, roses, or other kinds of gifts or rituals. I’ve often wondered why was that, and I have a double theory : first, most Beninese do not spend money on « unnecessary things » (so most commercial celebrations are not a « thing » back there), and second, we do not publicly express love. It’s sort of taboo, I think. For instance, the first thing that shocked me when I arrived in France later on was people touching and hugging and kissing in public : this was impossible where I come from. However, since we are being influenced by Western culture, if you happen to be in Benin at this time of year, inviting your loved one to dinner would not considered a bad thing : food is the best celebration you can find in my country, so every occasion to do so is celebrated !
COSTA RICA, by Pablo Castro
I think of two major environments when I think of Costa Rican couples: a festive party scene and a calm nature one.
Festivals, communal activities and loud bars allow couples to enjoy music in large cheerful crowds. It goes without saying that dancing is a central part of most of these outings. At Las Fiestas, yearly carnivals that travel around towns, the dancefloor is invaded by couples of all ages, ranging from awkward teenagers to experienced 80-year-olds. It is common knowledge that dancing skills are necessary for anyone trying to charm a partner, be it at a bar or at a relative’s wedding. Bachata is known to be the most sensual of dances and if someone invites you to the dancefloor when it plays, you can tell what his or her intentions are!
People who are less interested in crowds, may look for some of the many scenes of picturesque landscapes or simply surround themselves with some of the rich biodiversity the country offers. With many people living close to beaches, mountains and even volcanoes a date can often be a hike, a picnic or a simple sunset-watching session.
If you ever date in Costa Rica, then, be ready for a routine of Salsa, Merengue, stargazing and sunrises.
HONDURAS, by Ana Catalina Espinoza
The red roses, absurd overuse of cologne, the DIY cards, and who knows even mariachis could get into the equation. Valentine’s day is either a day many are waiting to ask a girl to be their girlfriend or the day to make a grandiose declaration of love to your ‘already’ girlfriend. Hondurans are mad romantics that will gift you 100 roses on your first month-versary. But they could also just forget you birthday… so don’t get too excited. Valentine’s day can get cheesy. Back in the day, serenades were a very popular form to demonstrate a boy’s love for a girl. A serenade consists of a group of singing mariachis, which are singers, guitar players, accordion players and some other instruments as well. The magic of the serenade is to have it delivered to your house, you open your window to one of the most romantic gestures ever to exist. (I must admit I am a sucker for romantic musical gestures) The mariachis usually sing songs about how beautiful a girl is or how the man behind the gesture is madly in love with the girl. Now, the usual starter pack for Hondurans lovers includes red roses, a love note, and grooming up in your best formal clothes.
FRANCE, by Camille Ibos
No matter the country in which I was travelling, I’ve always been greeted by people referring to Paris, capital of France, as the town of Love with a capital L. My Australian host sister kept calling Paris ‘la ville de l’amour’, and a Romanian friend joked that one could not tight their shoelaces in Paris without being thought of being proposing to the person in front of them. Another friend from Romania didn’t remember anything else from his French classes than ‘Voulez-vous coucher avec moi?’, ‘Do you want to have sex with me?’. It’s true that in France, we take dating very seriously. It is common knowledge that the day after a first night together, the man of the couple ‘should’ buy a handful of croissants for his partner’s breakfast – which man should be in charge of the croissants in a gay couple, the story doesn’t say. In a country considering itself the ‘world center of gastronomy’, it’s no surprise that love and food often go hand in hand, and bringing breakfast to one’s partner is seen as a peak of cuteness and romanticism. For Valentine’s Day, it is a tradition to offer roses and a present, as well as to go to a fancy restaurant for dinner. Valentine’s Day being a huge thing in France, single friends often organize ‘alternative Valentine’s’ on that evening, and a harsh debate is still going on, on whether Valentine’s is nothing but a commercial celebration or is, on the other hand, a wonderful opportunity to celebrate love. Anyway, it’s at least an occasion to eat good food, and pâtisseries in Paris even offer to sell cakes two by two at this period of the year…
And you… how is it in your country? 🙂