Does Valentine’s Day match Chinese culture?

Saint Valentine (266-269), patron of all lovers

Mostly due to American influence, young Taiwanese have adopted some Western customs like Valentine’s Day on February 14th, which originally honored three early Christian martyrs named Valentine.

Just like in the West, men are expected to take their female partners out for a romantic dinner and to give them chocolates as well as red roses, which for a couple of days makes these beautiful flowers significantly more expensive.

Preferably it should be a foreign restaurant, best if French or Italian, as local places typically just don’t offer a cozy atmosphere and somehow lovers would hardly get into the right mood.

The supposedly special menu usually is at least as overpriced as it could be in Europe or the United States. It basically offers the same stuff as always, with the exception of two glasses of cheap sparkling wine.

But there’s another little problem much harder to solve, if it’s not simply mission impossible, as the whole thing was imported from a completely different cultural environment.

Probably due to the experience accumulated in those 35 years that I have been in touch with Chinese culture, mostly in Taiwan, I dare to state that Chinese people in general aren’t romantic at all, especially males.

It might be less the case with females, although some of them do falsely believe that the more money their lovers spend on them, the more they love them. High expectations can always cause tensions…

Further proof of this is the fact that originally in Mandarin there was no term for this concept. Langman and luomantike are loan words, which is obvious even to those that don’t speak the language.

So how do you create that special mood if you don’t fully understand the conception? Of course not everybody in the West gets it either, though at least a majority has a vague idea about what’s supposed to happen.

Probably because I never got too close to a Taiwanese lady which all of a sudden would get into a Western mood, I was able to avoid really embarrassing situations.

Also, I stayed away from forced events taking place outside and normally cooked at home for my sweetheart. That doesn’t mean I was completely kept from unpleasant surprises, but at least it wasn’t also a financial flop!

All in all, I have pleasant memories of rather quiet Valentine’s Days in Taiwan, exchanging little gifts and enjoying my girlfriend’s company. I hope that next year I can add another one!


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