May 20, Chinese Valentine’s Day, is gaining popularity among Shanghai expats

By Chen Shasha Source:Global Times Published: 2017/5/18 18:43:39

May 20, shortened as "520" in China, which sounds similar to "I love you" in Putonghua, is celebrated as Chinese Valentine's Day. Different from traditional holidays such as Spring Festival and Dragon Boat Festival, it was only recently invented by Chinese netizens and is celebrated mostly by young adults and millennials. With May 20 around the corner, the Global Times interviewed some foreigners in Shanghai about their opinions on love and romance in the Middle Kingdom.

Photos: CFP

Expressing one's affections from the bottom of their heart doesn't come easily for everybody. Some will directly say "I love you" while others prefer to put their feelings into action.

"I always say 'I love you' to my parents and friends," said Tyler (pictured below) from Canada, "but if I have a girlfriend, I will not say it until we are in a serious relationship."

Marcos (pictured below) from the US, however, said he hates to say "I love you." "I feel it is like a contract," he said.

Viktor (pictured below) from Germany believes the words are underused. "It is a good feeling to say 'I love you' and get a response," he said. "Maybe we should say it more often. There is too much anger in the world."

Birgitt (pictured below left) from Germany said people take such terms of endearment seriously in her country. "It is very special when you say 'I love you.'"

Hanks (pictured below) from Germany agrees. "I like to say that to my family, especially my grandma. But for others, it depends, but not in a common daily way."

Shopping malls in China tend to exploit romantic holidays such as 520 to sell flowers and sweets to spendthrift couples.

"I have never heard about 520 before," said Vincent (pictured below) from France. "But the shopping malls and brands here are using any opportunity they can to sell their products."

Marcos sees a bigger picture, with such commercial activity as an alternative way for people to express their feelings.

"I don't think we express enough emotions to each other; we do everything via the texting. Maybe sometimes we should be more emotional and persuasive to each other."

On May 20, Shanghai's marriage registry office sees long queues of couples who want to get married on the special date.

Hotels get booked up for wedding banquets and many sites and parks around the city become the day's most popular places for men to propose to their girlfriends.

Maureen (pictured below) from the Netherlands met her husband 15 years ago on her first day of work.

"I was working in a very nice hotel when he walked in. We fell in love at first sight," she sighed. Two years later, they moved to Portugal where their two daughters were born. "I do believe in true love," she said.

"Love between parents and children is different from that 'I love you' love," said Birgitt, who met her husband at a ski resort in Austria.

"We were sitting on T-lift side by side. He was telling me stories all the way up the mountain. When we got to the top, he asked my name." They have been married for 35 years.

Sex before love or love before sex is a controversial yet unavoidable topic for new couples. It's a matter of opinion whether true love can be conceived from a one-night stand.

Vincent believes that casual sex is as good a place as any to begin a relationship. "I don't know whether true love can be started from a one-night stand," he said. "But we have to start somewhere."

Augustin (pictured below) from Germany said he believes in true love, but he thinks sex should come later. "It is always strange to start from sex. We should know each other first."

Photos: Global Times

"You have to match both emotionally and physically," said Hanks, who believes that love is a spontaneous emotion that can happen at any time.

Newspaper headline: 520!


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