Asia in love: Valentine’s Day with a difference

VALENTINE’S DAY might be a western concoction, but people across Asia are certainly not adverse to getting romantic and sentimental on the date. While the majority of celebrations of this nature do take place on  or around February 14, there are other events celebrating the same idea at other times of year. From underwater weddings to the exchange of chocolate dipped sticks, here are some romantic events happening in Asia to celebrate love.

Getting married with the fishes, Thailand

Pic: www.underwaterwedding.com

In Thailand Trang Underwater Weddings welcomes couples every year to exchange their vows under the sea from February 10-12. Prices are about 25,000 baht (US$800) per couple and 34 couples have taken the plunge, literally, this year to do the deed. Underwater weddings started in Trang in 1996. It’s also the location of the Largest Underwater Wedding Ceremony – awarded by the Guinness World Records in 2000.

Pepero Day, South Korea
Pepero Day is very similar to Valentine’s Day but it’s actually held on November 11. This means women in South Korea may possibly receive two lots of romantic gifts in the one year. Lucky them. On Pepero Day couples exchange Pepero sticks, a cookie stick dipped in chocolate, although they do come with strawberry, cocoa, cheese, almond and other flavours.

Play Angry Birds with your loved one
Those with a more techno nature to their relationship will be hanging out for the Facebook version of the game to be launched this year on February 14. This is a great opportunity to play the game with your sweetheart. Of course the game is also open to friend challenges if you don’t have a sweetheart to play with.

Cliff Rappelling, Thailand
In Thailand marriage vows are literally a leap of faith as couples have their ceremony in mid air in these popular ceremonies in Thab Lan National Park, Prachinburi province on February 13-14. Couples swing out from the cliffs to say their “I do” in what is to become the start of a life long adventure.

Pic: AP. Wason Wanichakorn

Mistress Day, China
So that men with more than one woman in their lives can make both feel important, China has designated February 13 as Mistress Day. The logic is that the wife gets her flowers and chocolates on Valentine’s Day, and the other woman gets her share too.

The World’s Longest Kiss returns, Thailand
If you missed out on a good smooch last year you could head to Pattaya for this competition running 12-14 February. Couples here aim to break the 46-hour long Guiness World Record. The winners get 200,000 Baht.

Valentine’s Day Japanese style
In Japan they’ve either got it right, or completely skewed, depending whether you’re male or female. Here women give chocolate gifts to their male lovers and friends on February 14. On March 14 though it is the ladies’ turn and the men reciprocate on White Day and give them gifts – traditionally these should cost twice as much as what they received back in February.

Qixi Festival, China
Matchmaking in China is a long practiced art and in the Chinese Lunar New Year holiday parents and companies will attempt to find partners for prospective brides and grooms. The event does fall around Valentine’s Day, depending on the calendar year, but Chinese also have their own version of the day on the 7th day of the 7th lunar month. On this day couples visit the Matchmaker’s Temple to pray for love and marriage.

Mass weddings, Filipino style
Mass weddings on Valentine’s Day have become increasingly popular in the Philippines and 2012 is not likely to disappoint. In Palawan city last year 150 couples got married in the rain and planted mangrove trees to a themed event called “Love affairs with Nature”.

Pic: REUTERS/Romeo Ranoco