BEIJING – China celebrated on Wednesday Valentine’s Day, a Western tradition now followed mainly by youth who opt for flowers to present to their loved ones, and refrain from gifts that could prove controversial in the country such as a watch or an umbrella.
Following superstition, the Chinese avoid buying watches and clocks since they are a direct allusion to the passage of time and could augur an end to the relationship, according to state broadcaster CCTV.
The same goes for footwear. Although for many westerners a pair of shoes could be an attractive gift on Feb. 14, in China it is seen as a way to walk, run and even flee from someone, including one’s lover.
However, lovers in China pay heed not only to superstitions and symbols, but also take into account the sounds of words.
For example, they would never gift umbrellas because its pronunciation in Mandarin is similar to the word for “collapse,” something they would not want to associate with their romantic relationship.
While fruits are not common gifts, in the attempt to avoid homophones, Chinese people also rule out gifting their partners a pear, as the word sounds similar to the verb that means “leaving someone behind.”
Taking into consideration all these factors, people in China usually resort to – like everyone else on the planet – flowers and cards.
Flower markets in the capital displayed on Tuesday a wide variety of roses, tulips, orchids and other species, of different colors, especially red, pink, fuchsia and yellow, but had few chrysanthemums, which are reserved for funerals.
Many young people were seen buying bouquets for their partners and some even prepared surprises like putting flowers in the shape of a heart in the trunk of their lover’s car.
Valentine’s Day this year in China falls just two days before the Lunar New Year, a festival in which flowers are also bought to gift loved ones or decorate houses as they welcome the New Year.