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Why Valentine’s Day in These European Countries Is All About Friendship

Five days before Valentine’s Day, Taru Jäntti, 27, made her thanks to the local post office in Helsinki to send cards to her four closest friends.

“For me, friends are the foremost important people in my life,” Jäntti says. “I’m during a relationship at once and she’s a crucial a part of my life but my friends are there forever. they’re the core of my social life.”

In many countries around the world, single people can find themselves dreading Valentine’s day. the vacation is intended for couples, who exchange chocolate, flowers, and doting smiles. But not in Estonia and Finland, two tiny European countries where Feb. 14 is Friend’s Day, a celebration of platonic love.

Known as Ystävän Päivä in Finnish and Sõbrapäev in Estonian, Friend’s Day is well known by single people and couples alike. Families, friends, and couples gather for shared meals and sporting activities like skating or sledding.

“I am visiting see my friends for dinner to celebrate,” Jäntti said. “We’ve been friends since we were 14 and every one our partners are visiting be there in addition.”

The holiday began in Finland within the 1980s and made its way south to nearby Estonia by the top of the last decade. within the beginning, the vacation was for varsity children who were encouraged to create handmade gifts and cards for his or her loved ones. By the 1990s, the vacation became popular among adults.

While Friend’s Day was only officially included in Finnish calendars in 1996, the tradition has become deeply ingrained within the cultural fabric of Finnish society and today is widely celebrated throughout the country. Friend’s Day is that the second most well-liked card giving holiday in Finland, with approximately 3 million cards sent in 2015.

Meanwhile, Estonians increasingly think about Feb. 14 as a sacred day. “It’s getting bigger and greater,” says Gert Lax, an Estonian man who recently moved back to Estonia.

Liisa Vesik, a scholar studying the evolution of Valentine’s day in Estonia, argues that the vacation has become particularly popular within the post-socialist period because the ideological barrier lifted and Estonia became more exposed to international holidays. During this era, Friend’s Day has also become more commercialized, with companies creating products for the vacation. instead of copying the vacation, however, Vesik writes that it absolutely was “adapted for its new surroundings” in Estonia.

In both countries, streets are still decorated in love-themed paraphernalia within the weeks leading up to Feb. 14. The day celebrates all styles of love, so romance isn’t absent from the vacation. Couples will often exchange gifts, with some getting engaged or married on the day. At some high schools in Finland, students will wear red if they’re in relationships and green if they’re single. In Estonia, single people attempting to find romantic love can hitch a ride on “love buses,” designed for single people trying to find love.

Nevertheless, celebrations of romantic love don’t take center stage. “I’m so glad Valentine’s day is Friend’s Day in Finland,” Jäntti says. “There aren’t any other holidays that recognize that your friends are as important as your family or romantic relationships. Christmas and other holidays are spent with family.”

After all, she says, “friends are as important as everyone else in your life.”

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