Who else is sick and TIRED of reading the news to find another appalling attack of hate?
Can I get an AMEN!
It seems as if the world is suffering from an epidemic of hate right now. Horrifying terrorist attacks appear in the news on an all-too regular basis, unjustified wars are killing hundreds of people daily, the talk of nuclear warfare is being thrown around like a frisbee, and within the USA there has been more hate-fueled violence in the past 6 months than there has been since the American Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s.
What’s hates arch enemy? You guessed it…LOVE. And don’t you just love love! After all, we might all speak different languages, eat different foods, have different skin colors, pray to different gods, listen to different music…but we all love. So, I’ve asked people from around the world to share how their cultures celebrate love.
Seatbelts on! Ready to hop on the love train?
In light of the disheartening attack last week, it’s only fitting we start our love journey at Las Ramblas in Barcelona. Every April 23rd, the center of Barcelona is taken over by books for Sant Jordi day. However, it’s much more than a ginormous book fair. It’s a day dedicated to the double “Ls”: Literature and Love! The tradition is that women buy a book for their special man in exchange for a rose. (However, if you’re my boyfriend I prefer a book over a rose, just sayin’).
“I love you” in Catalan: t’estimo
Let’s just all stop this madness and hold hands! Just look at Tanzania. Men hold hands with other men, women hold hands with other women, it’s a whole hand holding extravaganza! The only people you won’t see holding hands in public are couples. That raunchy stuff is saved for the comfort of your own home! Holding hands with people of the same sex is a sign of trust, love and friendship. My boyfriend spent some time in a village in Tanzania, and explained that it was totally normal to see a pair of 30-year-old guys walking down the street, casually chatting and with hands love-locked.
“I love you” in Swahili: Nakupenda
Would you let anyone stick a wooden tool in your ear? According to Japanese culture expert LeeAnna Pekel, after living in Japan with a family for a year and immersing herself in the culture, she learned that “Mimikaki” was the highest expression of love and trust. So, if you really love someone, you’ll lie your head on their lap and let them clean out your ear with a wooden stick. Chocolate and flowers? Overrated.
“I love you” in Japanese: Daisuke for friends, and Aishiteru for romantic love
“When my neighbor pressed his nose and forehead into mine, then took a deep breath, I felt like I was accepted into the community” Fallon Bader shared, who spent last year living in a small Hawaiian community. The ancient tradition is called “honi“, and it’s a greeting that represents love and respect between two people. When two people share a breath together, they are sharing “the breath of life” known in Polynesian as “mana“, a spiritual power between two people.
“I love you” in Hawaiian: Aloha au iā ‘oe
5. South Africa
Did something bad? Forget the time out room…you’re goin’ straight to the center of the village! In some villages in South Africa, wrongdoers are put in the center of the village for two days straight. Their neighbors then spend the next two days reminding them of all the good they have done in their life and why they are a wonderful, loved person. Talk about tough love!
It’s not “I love you” here. It’s “I respect you, I cherish you”: Nabajyotisaikia (…try saying that ten times fast!)
Why spend only one day celebrating love when you can spend a whole week? Forget Valentine’s Day. Argentina celebrates “Sweetness Week”, an entire week in July dedicated to sweet, sweet amor. Started in 1989 as a marketing campaign for a chocolate company, Argentines “fell in love” with the idea. Over the years, it’s turned into a week dedicated to showing love to humanity. True to its sweet roots, chocolates and candies are still exchanged among loved ones, but it goes much further than that. Kind gestures are made to strangers in the streets, that coworker you never really talk to in the office, and even animals in need of a little TLC.
“I love you” in Spanish: Te quiero (but I bet you already knew that! )
I asked about 30 people from around the world what their culture does to show love. Friends from countries in Europe, South America, Asia, Africa…and you know what all said initially? FOOD. Oh food, why are you just so damn loveable? When a Spanish person whips out queso from their pueblo, a glass of gazpacho or homemade wine, you know it’s from the heart. When you’re invited to a Moroccan’s house for mint tea, it’s a symbol of intimacy, trust and friendship. When a French person offers you wine from their cellar, consider it amour in a glass. From baklava offerings when I was all by my lonesome on Christmas in Brussels, to strange families taking me in for a shabbat dinner in Israel, while traveling the world alone I’ve experiences edible love at it’s best.