Relocation invites assignees to take part in invigorating new life experiences and explore new territories—similar to getting struck by Cupid’s arrow for the very first time! Valentine’s Day is in just a few days and for many assignees, this means getting up to speed a whole new kind of foreign relations. In preparation for Valentine’s Day, here are three cultural practices that differ from country to country to help level your assignees’ expectations.
PDA (Please don’t, abroad)
Or do...depending on your assignee’s location! Acceptance of PDA differs from country to country--and is often a topic that sparks curiosity and debate among foreigners. While France’s liberal take on PDA may force assignees to détourne le regard (look away), not all countries are nearly as accepting. In fact, assignees in Singapore should consider taking caution when meeting up with an old friend abroad. A friendly hug among two friends may be perfectly acceptable stateside, but may be way more than they bargained for and could even result in a hefty fine. Encourage assignees to keep it PG with their Valentine so as to keep it safe and not offend anyone in their new home country.
Expats in Japan should forget everything they know about courtship and dating. Courtship in Japan is traditionally formal and male-driven. For this reason, it’s not uncommon to see courtship take place on goukon (or group blind dates). Valentine’s Day, on the other hand, is a completely different story. バレンタイン・デー (or Japanese Valentine’s Day) is one of the few exceptions where women will take the lead in courtship. It is tradition for women to gift 本命チョコ (chocolate of love) to men they are interested in on February 14th. These chocolate candies are often homemade in order to show true love for their recipient. One month later on ホワイトデ (White Day), men return the gift by giving women white chocolate and other sweets—and it’s expected that they give two to three times as much as they originally received. If your assignee has a sweet tooth, they’re in for a treat!
While a universal tradition, weddings are celebrated differently country to country and it’s important for assignees to grasp these new traditions. Assignees in India lucky enough to be invited to a wedding should be ready for the long haul (and to break out their dancing shoes)! Weddings often last for days at at a time and are characterized by bright colors, jewels and even horses! While exciting, assignees should make sure they double-check their wedding invitation. It’s common to only be invited to a portion of ceremony and they don’t want to be caught going on the wrong day.
Weddings in Sweden sing (or smell) a different tune altogether. Instead of carrying flower bouquets, some brides choose to carry potent ogräs (weeds) in order to ward off trolls looking to crash the party. While this practice is falling out of favor, potent weeds and flowers will occasionally be seen in a wedding procession (fortunately with no trolls in sight).
While love is perceived differently place to place, encourage your assignee to celebrate the upcoming Valentine’s day holidays by both embracing new traditions and using the time to reconnect to friends and family back home. For more information on love in other cultures, check out our Mango Romantic Introductions Course.