This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by Ssekandi Ssegujja Ronald. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

A Glimpse Of Valentines’ Day Celebration Around The World

More from Ssekandi Ssegujja Ronald

By Ssekandi Ronald Ssegujja:

This week, every little place I know will be filled with various messages of Valentine. It may be in the virtual world, on platforms over social media, or on busy streets of cities around the world. Florists and hoteliers will be busier than ever before as they provide service to love drenched men and women.

VdayAs the world pauses to celebrate this wide held festivity, I have taken time to look back at my experiences over time with Valentines’ day and trace its roots in our culture

I started by looking at Stephanie Modkins’ article “Valentines’ day around the globe; How other cultures celebrate” and she highlights a number of countries. In the UK, she notes that couples and non-couples gather together in the name of love and celebrate by giving cards, candy and flowers. However, they do have a unique tradition involving children. Children sing sweet songs in order to get gifts in the form of candy and fruit. Also, single women believe that the first man they see on Valentine’s Day morning will be their future husband. It is a great way to keep certain men from walking by a specific house on Valentine’s Day and another way of getting certain men to camp out all night.

In South Africa, young couples celebrate this day with friends by going out to dinner. Also, tourist attractions like wild life parks, sanctuaries, Cape Town and Soweto are ‘hot’ hang outs. Some people also honour a Roman festival called “Lupercalia”. In this festival, young women and men pin their names on their lover’s sleeves. It’s a way to acknowledge their attraction openly and express deep feelings.

Moving over to Europe, in Spain, Valentine’s Day is an elaborate celebration. Men and women spend the day with their significant others in order to express their love. Roses are popular gifts that men give to their wives. Other gifts are given as well in order to honour the love in one’s life. Valentine’s Day is a great day for street vendors as well, who sell a variety of gifts to people trying to celebrate the day.

In Brazil, Valentine’s Day is not celebrated, but is replaced with a similar holiday called Boyfriend’s/Girlfriend’s Day. It is celebrated on June 12th and is a time in which lovers give each other flowers, cards, chocolates and other gifts in the name of love.

In the U.S., Valentine’s Day is a huge celebration in which lovers, family and friends exchange cards, candy, gifts and go to events. A popular activity is for two lovers to go out to dinner. It’s a way to express love through a fun activity.

I am well aware of the practice in Uganda and probably it will reflect on many of the surrounding countries. Valentines is a practice that we have borrowed from the West and incorporated in our festivities. It began as a religious celebration but just as Christmas or Easter, it has come to be a cultural celebration. In my lingua, this day is known as “Olunaku lw’abagalana”, Day of lovers, and indeed couples or intending couples look forward to getting a special treat from their loved ones. Black and red has also become the official wear for valentines’ day and if you walked the streets of Kampala on February 14th, you would get to see it painted in red.

As a young boy in elementary/primary school, I remember how we used to pass on little notes with drawings of hearts on them to that one girl you had been eyeing. Young as we were, this day meant something to us; perhaps a lesson we copied from the older generation. Even when our pick up lines were lame; “I will love you till Lake Victoria dries up”, our intentions were purely in the spirit of valentines’.

As I did some research on whether there was a valentines’ day celebration in my culture, I came to learn that Valentine as it is known and inspired, is a foreign concept for us but we  had our way of celebrating love and thanking those who meant a lot to us. African people in the past used to sit around fire to celebrate love and often we would have communal dances where suitors would get to mark out their loved ones and express their feeling. Our men and women sang songs in praise of their partners and found a way of appeasing them. For women, it would always be in the service of a well cooked meal while the men would give more material things like clothing, game, food, ornaments and so on.

The world will go red on February 14th and I wish you all a great celebration. Remember to tell all those you love how much they mean to you. I will remember to do the same.

Sending you love from an overly hot Kampala!

You must be to comment.

More from Ssekandi Ssegujja Ronald

Similar Posts

By Bidisha Bhatacharya

By Raj Iyre

By Yash Johri

Wondering what to write about?

Here are some topics to get you started

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below