Thousands of pink ribbons gently swaddle their chocolate boxes as an outpouring of love and appreciation echoes throughout Rexburg. Some might groan at the idea of yet another Valentine’s Day, while others share delight in the memories of home as they watch heart-shaped candies and bright red roses fill the stores.
According to the BYU-I website, 1,826 students attending are international students. The school is full of rich culture and students from all different backgrounds, but Valentine’s Day brings a united spirit to the students on campus.
“There’s a lot of similarities between the United States and Ukraine,” said Tamara Lukashova, a student from Ukraine and a senior studying data science. “Couples exchange gifts, guys give girls flowers, the kids in the schools will give little Valentine’s to one another. It is exactly the same. It is really cute.”
Some countries celebrate the holiday on different days, but still in a similar way. Shely Rodrigues, a sophomore studying political science explained that where she is from in Brazil, Valentine’s day is celebrated on Jun. 12.
“In June, we don’t have a lot of holidays,” Rodrigues said. “People do not sell much during that time. With Valentine’s Day being in June, store owners sell a lot more. It is good for them.”
Other countries celebrate the holiday based on religious reasons. They focus on St. Valentine and the culture of love.
“My country is very catholic,” said Claudia Shamukiga, a student from Rwanda and a senior studying biomedical science. “We focus on the saint of love, but it doesn’t just mean romantic love. It means all love.”
Love is expressed in different ways throughout the world. According to an article written by Asia Media Centre, women in Japan gift men chocolate as a sign of love and appreciation. One month later on Mar. 14, the men return the favor to the women by celebrating White Day. According to an article on AmoLink, men are expected to buy the women gifts that are two or three times the value of the women’s gifts. White Day used to be called Marshmallow Day, because the men would gift the women marshmallows. Now, they refer to it as White Day because it encompasses all sweet, sugary treats.
Though each country might celebrate differently, the message is the same: love is love, no matter where you are. Learning more about the diverse cultures at BYU-I can help students show love in familiar ways.