Valentine’s Day in Japan
In Japan women give men chocolates on Valentine’s Day, including friends and men they work with.
They give their lover extra special chocolates, which they sometimes make themselves. A month later, it’s the men’s turn to give chocolates.
1. Bags of love
In Papua New Guinea woven bags are very important. The patterns tell you a lot about the person carrying it, like how important they are in their town or village. Some bags are used to keep and conceal powerful objects. Women make most of the bags. If a girl is in love with a boy, she can show her feelings by giving him a lovely bag as a gift.
Abelam; Papua New Guinea; around 1987; fibre; RV-5526-377
2. Her gift to him
In Southern Africa some women would give the man they wanted to marry something to decorate himself with. If he accepted the woman’s invitation, the gift became a symbol of their first child. The man would wear it on his hip, so that everyone could see he was spoken for.
Nguni-language speaking peoples; South Africa; around 1950; hair, metal wire, beads; TM-2724-28
3. Hey sirih
If a girl on the island of Sulawesi liked a boy, she gave him a sirih bag. Sirih is the name for a mixture of areca palm nut, lime and betel leaf. When you chew it makes you feel good. If the girl made a really lovely gift, the boy would be in the bag!
Central Sulawesi, Indonesia; 1850-1900; bark; RV-03-274
4. Will you give me a child?
These figures are from different parts of the world, but people use them for the same thing. A man gives one to his wife or to the woman he is going to marry. The doll or statue is a symbol of the baby they hope to have. To give them a better chance of having a baby, the woman takes the doll or statue everywhere with her.
4A Toraja; Sulawesi, Indonesia; 1800-1900; copper alloy; TM-91-32 en -33
4B Fali; Cameroon; 1950-2000; wood, beads, cowry shell, copper alloy, fibre; AM-593-9
5. Say it with beads
These are love letters made of beads. In Southern Africa women gave them to their boyfriend or husband as a gift. Women would also send these as a personal message to the man they longed for, working far away from home. The shape and colour might mean something only they knew about. The big pins are so the men could fix them to their clothes, and show everyone how popular they were.
Swazi; South Africa; 1900-1950; beads, metal; RV-2646-13, RV-2646-15 and RV-2646-17
Tell each other: what present did you give to your first love?
6. A comb for her
A gift you have made yourself is extra special. It shows you really care about a person. Men from the Maroon communities in Suriname make beautiful combs for women they like, to show how creative they are. Some of these combs are so big you can hang them on the wall as art.
Saamaka; Suriname; 1895-1896; wood, copper; TM-A-6335
7. Silver for my little treasure
If a man of the Sámi people in Norway wants to marry a woman, he has to bring her and her family silver – jewellery, and also cups and spoons. He makes coffee and cooks reindeer meat. If the woman and her family drink the coffee and eat the meat, it means they can get married.
Silversmith Juhls; Sámi; Norway; 2006; silver; RV-6058-13, -14, -18
8. Crown jewel
Dutch King William III gave this diamond pendant to Queen Emma just before they got married. She wore it on her wedding dress Can you see the head on the diamond? That’s King William III himself. By wearing the pendant, Emma showed they now belonged together.
Moses Cohen de Vries (1807-1883), Oscar Massin (1829-1895); Netherlands; around 1879; diamond, ruby, emerald, silver; on loan from the Royal Collections, The Hague, MU-5523
9. We belong together
People all over the world often give each other jewellery when they get married, to show that they belong together. Wedding rings are well-known, but sometimes people give earrings, or a necklace.
9A Earring: Topotha, Sudan; 1950-2000; aluminium; AM-655-85
9B Pendant: Ethiopia; 1950-2005; silver alloy, leather, wood; WM-75802
9C Rings and earrings: Sámi; Norway; 2006; silver, glass; RV-6058-22, RV-6058-24 and RV-6058-28