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Languages of Love Around the World

Languages of Love Around the World

We celebrate love all over the world; love is the only true universal language.

As Erich Fromm, a German social psychologist said, “Love is the only sane and satisfactory answer to the problem of human existence.”

Though not all countries celebrate Valentine’s Day, all over the world people show their love in different ways throughout the year.

Here are nine ways cultures around the world express love, and how you can learn to express your love in different ways, inspired by languages of love around the world.

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Send a love letter made out of beads like Zulu lovers in South Africa

In Zulu culture, colorful beads are used to communicate between young men and women, with different colored beads representing different feelings. For example red means anger and blue surrounded by yellow represents pining.

If a girl likes a boy, she can send him a love letter in beads, called ‘ucu’. After the two have been dating for a while, the boy can then ask the true meaning of the beads. To express your love through Zulu cultural traditions, make your loved one a beaded bracelet or necklace, and let them guess the meaning of the beads.

Have a month-long Valentine’s Day like the Japanese

In Japan, Valentine’s Day is spread out for a month. On February 14th, women will give homemade chocolates to the men in their lives, but will create a special ‘honmei-choco’ (prospective winner chocolate) for the object of their affection. One month later, the chosen man should give the woman his own chocolate gift in return, expressing his love.

Celebrate like the Japanese by spreading out the love for a whole month; you could make a batch of chocolates and give one to your lover every day, until the day he returns the favor.

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Celebrate Love Day with the birds in Romania

In Romania, Dragobete, or ‘Love Day’ is celebrated on February 24th, and is thought to be the day that birds get engaged, birds being the messengers of God. The name Dragonbete comes from a Romanian mythological character similar to that of Cupid, a celebrator of love. In nature, this date is around the time that birds begin to mate and build nests, so boys and girls celebrate this by exchanging gifts and chocolates.

Celebrate your love with the birds by swapping February 14th for February 24th.

Love your community as they do in Mexico

In Mexico, Valentine’s Day is more about celebrating love as a community, rather than the traditional one-on-one love. On February 14th, Mexicans have a holiday called El Dia del Amor y Amistad, where women bake for friends and neighbors, and men bring balloons and sweets.

Instead of having a one-on-one date, or being alone this Valentine’s Day, why don’t you invite your friends, family and neighbors around and hold a party to celebrate all of the people who are important in your life.

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Go after the first one you see like the Scottish

Some singletons in Scotland spend the day searching for their Valentine’s day date. How does this work? Well, the first man or woman spotted on the street by the person looking for a date becomes their Valentine for the day. Whether or not the unsuspecting object of affection wants to be their Valentine is up for question.

If you want to incorporate the Scottish tradition into your Valentine’s Day, you could use it as inspiration to meet someone special. Go up to the first person who takes your fancy and offer to buy them a drink; you never know where it could end!

Take part in China’s Qixi Festival

In China, they have their own version of Valentine’s Day, the Qixi Festival, which comes on the seventh day of the seventh month on the lunar calendar. It is a day in which the sense of union through working as a couple is celebrated, and it is an important day for weddings. In China, they are more likely to celebrate strong family ties rather than showing physical of verbal affection and the day praises the women’s roles as homemakers and wives.

Celebrate like the Chinese by spending the day doing an experience that you both enjoy and that strengthens your relationship, like a day trip or something adventurous, rather than spending money on gifts or chocolates.

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Celebrate Man’s Day and Woman’s Day with Iceland

Icelanders are more likely to celebrate Man’s Day and Woman’s Day, which falls on certain dates according to the old Icelandic calendar. On those days, food, gifts and displays of affection are exchanged on those days, similar to our Valentine’s Day.

On February 12th, the capital city of Iceland, Reykjavik celebrates ‘Museum Night’ where all the museums and music venues stay open until midnight.

Celebrate love like an Icelander with special days for each partner, and enjoy some culture by visiting a museum or seeing a live band together.

Decorate a spoon to signify unrequited love like the Welsh

In Wales, St. Dwynwen’s Day falls on January 25th. On this day Welsh men carve lovely, touching designs on wooden spoons and give them as gifts to the object of their affection as a sign of unrequited love. The idea harks back to ancient Welsh lore, celebrating love and affection. The story goes that Princess Dwynwen fell in love with Maelon, but they were not able to be together. Angry, the Princess fled to the woods and received a potion from faeries that turned Maelon into an eternal block of ice. That is a serious metaphor.

Give your loved one a decorated spoon this year, or, if you don’t fancy a spoon, use this Welsh tradition as an excuse to make your Valentine a homemade gift.

America and England

In the USA and England, Valentine’s Day is celebrated on February 14th and lovers and secret lovers give romantic gifts to the objects of their affection. Valentine’s Day gifts such as chocolates, jewelry, roses and teddy bears are the traditional gifts, though many people use this day to go on a date to a fancy restaurant. Children are encouraged to make Valentine’s cards and send them in secret.

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Last Updated on January 15, 2019

How to Talk to Strangers Without Feeling Awkward

How to Talk to Strangers Without Feeling Awkward

Many of us feel awkward talking to strangers. I’m a very outgoing person, even though I sometimes feel uncomfortable walking up to someone and asking a question or starting a conversation. I consider myself pretty high up on the extrovert meter. So what is it that makes us pause and become worried or anxious about talking to people we don’t know?

In this article, we will discuss why we feel this way as well as some tips on how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward.

Step right up, don’t be shy!

Why We Feel Awkward Talking to Strangers

The next time you feel uncomfortable talking to a stranger, tell yourself that’s completely normal. There are numerous reasons why it’s actually natural to feel awkward talking to strangers:

Our Stress Levels Rise Around Strangers

Numerous studies have show that our levels of cortisol go up when we are around strangers.[1] Cortisol is the hormone inside of us which produces stress responses.[2]
So there you go, right off the bat you can see part of your standard response to strangers is due to a chemical reaction!

A very interesting by product of increased cortisol is that it makes us less empathetic. More than likely this can be traced to our evolution. The increase in the cortisol and the corresponding decrease in empathy makes us want to stay away from strangers. We are biologically wired to feel concern around strangers.

Evolution Taught Us to Be Wary

Evolution has also taught us to be wary of strangers in general. Humans as a whole have spent a large chunk of their history banded together in small protective groups. We did this in order to help protect each other and maximize resources.

When you think about it in this context, outsiders to our small groups or strangers are considered potential threats. Fear of strangers is common across almost all human cultures.

Culturally Conditioned

We can also thank our society for helping us feel uncomfortable and sometimes afraid of strangers. The term “stranger danger” is something most of us can relate to either growing up or raising kids. Or both.

I remember hearing this from my parents, mostly about not getting in someone’s car I didn’t know. And as the father of 2 teenage girls, you can be sure I’ve talked to them about this very concept more times that they want to hear.

The thought that strangers can be dangerous is built into us as it is. Toss in the amplification of the media on strangers doing things such as kidnapping kids and it takes it to an even higher level.

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Now that we’ve reviewed some of the reasons why we are nervous, let’s look at why you should talk to strangers more.

Benefits of Getting over the Awkwardness

Let’s take a quick look at some of the advantages of how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward. These are some high level benefits of talking to strangers.

1. Broadens Your Network

After you talk to someone, you didn’t know previously they become someone you know at least a little bit. This alone helps broaden your network of people you know. This is helpful in many ways whether it is work related or socially related.

2. Improves Your Communication Skills

I am a huge proponent of the value of solid communication skills and have written about it often. The more you talk to people, especially people you don’t know, the better your communication skills become.

Interacting with a wider variety of people will bring the added benefit of improving your communication skills.

3. Continually Learning

So many of us don’t actively seek to learn new things. This is one of the primary keys to staying engaged in life and our own personal self fulfillment.

Almost every time I speak to someone I didn’t know previously, I’ve learned something new. When we speak to strangers, it pushes us out of our comfort zones and we tend to learn new things.

4. Increases Self Confidence

Every time we learn to do something we were previously anxious about, we feel better about ourselves.

Forcing ourselves to talk to strangers will lead to increased self confidence. As we get more and more comfortable doing something that previously made us feel awkward, our self confidence will go up and up.

So, how to talk to strangers to reap these benefits?

How to Talk to Strangers

Here are some tips to on how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward.

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1. Say Hello

Putting “say hello” first may seem a bit obvious but let’s take a deeper look. Much of the social awkwardness when speaking to strangers is simply breaking the ice. The first words that will engage someone.

Most people will respond when someone says hello or hi to them. And those that don’t, you probably don’t want to talk to anyway.

Practice being the person that opens the door to a conversation. Say hello.

2. Ask About Them

Something that I have noticed over the years is that people love to talk about themselves. Even fairly private people tend to open up when asked about events in their lives.

You can ask leading questions that get people to talk about themselves and recent events. Things like recent movies watched or the summer vacation are great to get someone talking.

As a father, I also know that people love to talk about their kids. Asking about kids is a fairly easy topic to bring up and in general, most people will expound upon all the great things their kids do or are involved with.

3. Just Do It

One of the biggest reasons we don’t do things we want to or know we should is because we overthink it. Quit thinking about it so much and just do it.

When you give yourself the time to analyze every little angle about a situation, you also give plenty of time to talk yourself out of it. You’ll wind up thinking what if this happens or what if that happens.

Try to force yourself to jump right in without thinking about it too much. Whenever I have done this, I always feel great about it afterwards, no matter how it turned out.

4. Don’t Take It Personal

One of the greatest lessons in life I ever learned was don’t take anything personally. We all go through life with our own sets of experiences and see things through our own lens. The way people react to different situations has almost nothing to do with us. It has to do with previous experiences and the way people feel about things other than us.

When someone’s reaction isn’t what you’d hoped or expected, chances are it has nothing to do with you. Remember that and keep it in context.

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5. Get a Chuckle If Possible

I used the word chuckle purposely because it makes me laugh. In my opinion, it’s one of those funny words. We all like to laugh because it makes us feel good. And when someone makes us laugh, we typically remember those people in a positive light.

One of the best ways to make a conversation easy and free flowing is to get some laughter going. It doesn’t mean you have to be the master joke teller or anything. See if you can work in a way to make the person you are talking to get a smile or some laughter in. In fact, laughing at yourself maybe a nice try.

6. Detach

A great feeling is when you don’t mind which way something turns out, that you will be fine no matter what happens. Kind of like when I watch my two favorite football teams play against each other. I don’t really care who wins, I just want a fun game.

Treat talking to strangers the same way. You don’t really care how the conversation goes because you are detaching from the outcome. Make it a fun time with yourself and if the conversation goes well, awesome! If not then no big deal, move on.

7. Share Your Stories

Well, all like to feel connected to other people. And many times we wind up hanging out with people that we have things in common with. No surprise here.

To help with how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward, tell stories that have commonalities with the person you are talking to. Kids are an easy one. I have a daughter who was a competitive cheerleader and now plays club volleyball. I have instant connection and stories with strangers I speak with who have kids that play sports. It’s easy to relate to.

So when you are speaking to a stranger and you have a story or mutual connection point, bring it up.

8. Give a Compliment

Almost everyone likes hearing a compliment, whether they admit to it or not. As a general rule, we don’t give out enough compliments. It’s amazing how one small remark someone tosses your way about how good you look can literally make your entire day.

When you are speaking with someone you don’t know, see if you can work a compliment in. Nothing creepy here. Not a good idea to tell someone you just met that they are the prettiest or handsomest person you ever met. However, if you can share how you like their tattoo or shoes or something like that, it will help put the conversation into an easy going, smiling place.

9. Relax Your Body Language

If you go into a situation all worried and nervous, it shows on your body. Your shoulders are tensed up, there’s a look of consternation on your face, things like that.

When you engage a stranger in conversation, make it a point to relax your body language. Take a deep breath before you engage the person, let your body relax, and put a smile on your face. This will help relax you and it has the added benefit of putting the other person more at ease.

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If they see that you are relaxed, it helps them relax. Plus having open, engaging body language is very conducive to inviting someone to open up into a conversation with you.

10. Practice, Practice, Practice

Like everything else in life, talking to strangers gets easier with practice. The more you do it, the easier it becomes.

Make it a point to talk to several strangers each week and it will definitely help you relax as you do it more and more.

After a while, it will become something you don’t even think about, you just do it. And that takes all of the awkwardness out of being in these type situations.

The Bottom Line

As we have seen, it is perfectly natural to feel awkward talking to strangers. We are biologically built that way and we have our own society constantly warning us how dangerous it is. It’s no wonder we feel awkward talking to strangers!

There are numerous benefits to learning to be more comfortable talking to strangers. See if you can employ some of the techniques mentioned to learn how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward.

Once you start practicing speaking with strangers more often and utilizing some of the tips, you will become more comfortable doing so. This in turn will lead to a learned new skill and increased self confidence.

Remember, everyone you know was a stranger at one time. Now get out there and make some new friends.

More Resources About Strengthening Communication Skills

Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com

Reference

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