How do fools fall in love?

Give a Dane a Valentine and wait for an Easter egg -- Valentine's Day traditions from around the globe.

Published February 14, 2000 5:00PM (EST)

In Japan, only women buy Valentine's presents, and then, they must buy a gift for every man they know including family, friends and work associates. Men don't reciprocate until one month later on "White Day," March 14.

Danish men also like to play a sort of cat-and-mouse game. On Feb. 14, Danish men send anonymous joking letters called "gaekkelrev" to the femmes of their affection. Instead of revealing their vulnerable identity, they sign the glib correspondence with clandestine dots -- one for each letter of their name. If the beloved guesses who the shy admirer is, she is offered an Easter egg by her beau at Easter.

Worse yet, nearly half of the people questioned in a U.K. survey said they have never sent a card or flowers on Valentine's Day. But this does not mean the love-shy Brits are at the bottom of the international barrel.

What nationality is Europe's least romantic? Germans. Fondness for frauleins and herrs is only mildly commemorated here, as an occasion with less importance than either Mother's Day or Father's Day, according to a survey by the Royal Mail on how the world celebrates Valentine's Day.

Although Valentine's Day is generally thought of as a Christian holiday named for a third century martyr, its appeal has recently crossed over to other religious groups, the study notes. In Israel, for example, Jewish citizens have been sending flower bouquets and chocolates to their loved ones for the past decade.

By Hank Hyena

Hank Hyena is a former columnist for SF Gate, and a frequent contributor to Salon.

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