Valentine’s Day, considered to be a true Hallmark holiday, is overshadowed by other traditions in Sweden. The beginning of Lent this February makes the presence of the semla pastry in bakeries a must, and these cream filled pastries draw more attention than the heart-filled holiday.
Instead of overflowing greeting card stocks stacked high with chocolate roses and flowers, the grocery store closest to campus, ICA, has one small rack of cards placed near the candy aisle. Few people even give the rack of cards a passing glance, even the day before Valentine’s Day, or, as it is called in Sweden, Alla hjärtans dag.
Directly translated as All heart’s day, the fourteenth of February is used more as an excuse for the younger crowd to hit the clubs than a reason to express love and admiration for that special someone. Advertisements for parties celebrating ‘sex and love’ week are plastered on campus bulletin boards and filling Facebook alerts. Indeed, when asked, Swedes tend to think of the great parties coming up before any romantically focused day.
“STENladen usually has a good one, this year it’s a smart-casual mustache party,” Karolina Bromberg said.
Some restaurants post deals about dinner dates for the special day, but a search of the Växjö city website only trawls up three. Searching various commercial Facebook groups nets another two deals at a flower shop, hardly a rousing endorsement for commercialization on the day of hearts.
The most obvious nod to the influence of Valentine’s Day is the fact it is printed in day planners and on calendars. Special issues in local papers, such as this one, don’t exist either. The only students who seem ready to make a big deal out of it are exchange students looking for a reason to hang out or bake sugary treats.
The six inches of snow on the ground might also have something to do with the tendency to focus on going out to indoor clubs and dance parties with large groups of people. They usually have better heating systems in clubs and pubs than the ones in the student apartments, which either boil or freeze depending on apartment location.
The lack of Valentine hysteria is refreshing and I look forward to going grocery shopping today and not being knocked aside by hysterical last-minute gift buyers searching desperately for an appropriate card. For the sheer novelty of it, I might even hit the downtown shopping district after work lets out to see the relatively empty streets and calm flower-shop.
Then I have an appointment with a particularly well-received smart-casual mustache party. It should prove interesting.