Valentine's Day is celebrated worldwide each February 14, but times are economically tight in many countries now. The US is experiencing inflation and Germany is experiencing austerity. Both are being affected by the land war in Ukraine and other factors in adjacent world economies. As purse strings tighten, we look at how the holiday is celebrated across the pond from one another, in the US and Germany, with an eye toward low or no-cost fun that also supports art and culture.
If you are in the US, it's typical to purchase flowers, chocolates, or other gifts, as well as take your sweetheart out to dinner. Many romantics would rather spend quiet time at home, which is a great way to save funds and still be romantic. Don't forget to make sure your phones and TV are off to eliminate distractions. Nothing says "I love you" like undivided attention.
In Germany, the celebrations are similar but Germans often have a unique twist involving pigs. What? Yep, pigs represented on cards or as figurines of marzipan offering cards or a chocolate heart indicate both luck and lust. Ginger cookies with declarations of love written on them with frosting are also common. "Ich liebe dich" means I love you in Deutsch. See this article for more on Valentine's celebrations around the world as well as information about Lupercalia, the first holiday that started what would later become Valentine's Day centuries later.
If gifts and going out to dinner are not within budget, don't despair, you still have plenty of choices no matter where you live.
Museums or Art Exhibits
Take your sweetheart to a museum exhibit or special art show. Many are free or low-cost, and if you live in a temperate climate, outdoor and sidewalk art displays are a great, healthy choice for a romantic stroll. Separately, some museums also offer special Valentine's exhibits this week. And many of those are incredibly unique.
In the US - Check out the National Security Agency's (NSA) National Cryptologic Museum in Ft. Meade, Maryland. The Museum's website boasts "it provides visitors with a unique opportunity to engage with cryptologic history." They even have a special Valentine's exhibit (right now you might be wondering how the NSA Museum could have a Valentine's Day exhibit?) Well, back during World War II men and women would exchange letters containing "Sweetheart Codes" as the exhibit is called, "...featuring historic coded love letters from WWII." The program will run through March 31, 2023.
"Come visit us to get an inside glimpse of the Greatest Generation’s encoded letters of love." Sweethearts of the time used to "...keep intimate descriptions and ... their most romantic thoughts hidden from the government censors..." using the Sweetheart Code.
Admission is free with no reservation or ticket required. Check before you go, however, as their closing hours vary. Since it runs through March, you can go on the weekend if you and your sweetie are traveling or working and prefer to celebrate the holiday on a different day. Where: 8290 Colony Seven Rd, Annapolis Junction, MD 20701
In Germany - If you've ever heard it said that Germans are cold and unromantic, be assured that this is far from the truth, and here's the proof, at the German Romantic Museum which presents
...unique originals with innovative forms of exhibition that make it possible to experience the Romantic period as a key epoch. It is the first museum in the world dedicated to the Romantic era as a whole."
This museum is a permanent exhibition and was funded by the Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and Media, a national demonstration of the importance of culture and media to society. Admission is not free but if you are a student, senior, resident, or have a culture pass, your cost is nominal, and even the full price is less than a dinner. Where: Großer Hirschgraben 21, 60311 Frankfurt am Main.
It's Winter - Staying Indoors
There are several film festivals going on in both countries if you've had enough hustle and bustle in your life and you're more inclined toward a sedentary celebration.
Germany - Try this German event calendar's Film Festival listing.
United States - Check out the NYC Film Festival Awards beginning on 16 February or New England film festivals this winter if you live in the NE/Boston region.
However you decide to celebrate this Valentine's Day, and even if you're simply taking yourself out to an exhibition or film festival as a single, remember that Valentine's Day started as a celebration of love, rather than commercialism.
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