Americans spend more than $24 billion on Valentine’s Day, so we can bank it never getting sent to the friend zone. But that hasn’t stopped some countries around the world from giving Cupid the boot on February 14th.
In many countries around the world, single people can find themselves dreading Valentine’s day. The holiday is designed 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.
The holiday began in Finland in the 1980s and made its way south to nearby Estonia by the end of the decade. In the beginning, the holiday was for school children who were encouraged to make handmade gifts and cards for their loved ones. By the 1990s, the holiday became popular among adults.
While Friend’s Day was only officially included in Finnish calendars in 1996, the tradition has become deeply ingrained in the cultural fabric of Finnish society and today is widely celebrated throughout the country. Friend’s Day is the second most popular card giving holiday in Finland, with approximately 3 million cards sent in 2015.
Liisa Vesik, a scholar studying the evolution of Valentine’s day in Estonia, argues that the holiday has become particularly popular in the post-socialist period, as the iron curtain lifted and Estonia became more exposed to international holidays. During this period, Friend’s Day has also become more commercialized, with companies creating products for the holiday. Rather than copying the holiday, however, Vesik writes that it was “adapted for its new surroundings” in Estonia.
Story source: Time.