Today is Valentine’s Day! Although Valentine’s Day is not originally a Chinese celebration (China has her own version of Valentine’s Day – Qixi Festival), more and more Chinese couples are adopting this celebration of love as their own. After all, love is universal, right? How love is shown, however, can vary from culture to culture, family to family, and individual to individual.
One of my favorite memories of celebrating the engagement to my Chinese husband is holding hands, walking through lively streets and buying durian together at a vibrant market in Nanning, South China. We enjoyed it at a nearby hostel with a cup of coffee. I had never eaten durian before and probably wouldn’t even have tried it if it wasn’t for my husband. I do love to indulge in a piece of durian from time to time now (luckily I’m not pregnant and don’t have to spend a fortune on durians anymore), and have even tried my husband’s durian pizza. I’m a lover of good food, and it is very fitting that for our engagement, we celebrated with food instead of flowers (we also went to a close-by food market). People say Chinese show love with food, and I can only attest to this judging from my own relationship. And let’s be honest, food is much better than flowers anyways! But, let’s see if I was too fast when saying Chinese show their love with food. In celebration of Valentine’s Day, here are 4 more accounts of how Chinese men show love to their Western women:
Becky from Writer. Traveler. Tea Drinker – A small piece of bread leads to a big moment
I’m probably one of the least romantic women you will meet. I think Valentines Day is some BS “hallmark” holiday that was made just to sell junk. When I date a guy, they pick up on it, and there is no pressure for some of the more traditional romantic gestures like flowers, chocolates or expensive dinners. I just don’t like and/or want it.
But one night my paoyou (Chinese for friend with benefits) and I were sitting watching a movie. We had been together for more than a year, but not in an exclusive relationship. We were close, as lovers would be after a year, but not too close. I didn’t hang out with his friends or know much about his life, and vice-versa. While we were sweet, and affectionate, we weren’t particularly romantic and that suited us both just fine.
But this night, while watching a movie, he was snacking on a piece of bread. He had eaten one or two pieces already and was kinda just pecking at it slowly. I didn’t think much of it. Then he took the bread away from his mouth and gave it to me. “I don’t want any bread,” I said waving my hand, still watching the television screen.
“No, I’m giving it to you,” he said insisting. I tore my eyes away from the movie to look.
He had nibbled the bread into the shape of a heart.
A small moment, but one of the sweetest gestures I will never forget.
Susie from Daily Susily – The Romance of a Thoughtful Listener
Although China has it’s own Valentine’s Day of sorts, February 14th has been taken up with fervour, especially by restaurants and online stores. Expensive meal sets, chocolates, flowers, gifts – this, to me, is not romance. On the surface, my lovely Beijing guy does not appear to be overly romantic – but I slowly came to recognise a different kind of romance in him that warms my heart.
He is a really good listener, and I think this forms the basis of his signature style of romance, because he listens to the things I’m interested in and the things I want to do and supports me however he can. Like when I told him I wanted to try and drink more water everyday, he started filling up the water bottles in our house each morning with fresh water before he leaves for work. Also, we play music a lot at home, and sometimes he’ll grab me and dance with me. But sometimes it’s just the way he looks at me so lovingly. When he buys me a gift, it’s always something thoughtful that shows how well he knows me, like the time he bought me the soundtrack for my favourite musical. I’d been thinking of buying it but hadn’t even mentioned it to him – it really surprised me!
Things like these really makes me love him even more. And they also change the way I show romance towards him.
Jocelyn Eikenburg of Speaking of China – It’s the little everyday moments that matter
My husband is the kind of guy who shows his love in those thoughtful everyday moments. You know, the little things he does to tell me — through actions, not words — just how much he cares.
Every morning, Jun loves to deliver me a steaming hot cup of my favorite dragonwell tea and a bowl of oatmeal. He’ll set it up right next to my bed so I can stay warm under the covers and enjoy a warm breakfast in bed.
I got a cut the other day when I was shaving my legs, and Jun insisted on putting on the bandage himself.
Sometimes, when I fall asleep before him or he wakes up early before me, he’ll tuck the covers around me tightly to make sure I stay warm and cozy.
After I shower, he’s the one who blow dries my hair, sometimes even combing it afterward. The way he looks at me when he finishes, it’s like he’s admiring his own work of art. It totally warms my heart.
Jun has taught me that love can be found in the details, in the quiet moments we share. It’s this kind of love that has kept our marriage strong for over a decade. I love you, Jun.
Felicity – Long Distance Love
My husband’s family don’t share hugs or simple embraces. Only once have I managed to persuade my husband to hug a family member. I can still see their tears. Knowing it was potentially the last time he would see his grandmother, I sent him back up the mountain. A wave goodbye on that occasion just wasn’t enough. So where does that leave me? Where my husband comes from, love is often expressed on paper. Poetry is written, some original, some copied from the greats. This may have changed since the arrival of WeChat. We had been together for not even two months before we were separated in a two year long distance relationship. He didn’t know how to use a computer and only had access to a public phone box so we wrote letters the old fashioned way.
One day I received a parcel at my university halls of residence in the U.K. I knew that he would have forfeited meals to save up for the postage cost. Inside was a silver coloured ornament with instructions he had carefully handwritten. Once assembled and batteries inserted, the two figurines twirled around in circles before joining in the centre for a kiss. He wrote, “though we are apart, one day our worlds will collide again”.
Happy Valentine’s Day!
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