If you’re a young, single, hot-blooded American, you’ll know just one fundamental truth: The modern-day dating scene is seriously confusing. From flicking through Tinder to chatting on Bumble, trying to find “the one” is something of a technological nightmare. If trying to find the love of your life online seems a tad odd, you should know that it’s not the strangest dating ritual out there. Call me a romantic, but I’ve always been deeply interested in how people express their love. In fact, over the years, I’ve heard tales of many weirdly wonderful displays of affection. While studying, I was lucky enough to live with friends from many different countries, from Wales to Holland. When our late night girly chats turned to the delicate subject of love, I was surprised that not all of us had the same traditions. With that in mind, here are just four dating rituals from around the world.
The Japanese Confess Their Love Before They Date
Make no mistakes, the L-word is a massive deal. For most of us, taking this leap only comes when we’re completely secure in the relationship, i.e. when we know our partner won’t bolt at the very notion of it. Over in Japan, though, young lovebirds confess their feelings for one another before they even start their relationship. Before this utterance, the couple can only be platonic. There’s no such thing as seeing each other or merely hooking up. No, it’s all or nothing — the ultimate form of romantic commitment or “just pals.”
The word “kokuhaku” (translating as confession) is not just a revelation between two former friends. Instead, it marks the beginning of the pair’s official relationship. From that moment on, the two are exclusively romantic with one another, so you have to be absolutely certain of your feelings before you dare proclaim them.
The Welsh Love to “Spoon”
It’s not what you think. In Wales, spooning does not refer to cuddling up tightly in bed, though the Welsh likely enjoy that as much as anyone else. No, the word takes a much more literal form. In this rather bizarre display of affection, when a man would like to date a woman, he has to go to the painstaking effort of carving a wooden spoon for her by hand. And, of course, it can’t be any old style of spoon. The Welsh “love spoon” isn’t complete without intricate detail adorning its wooden shaft.
The ritual actually dates way back to the 16th century when men and women could not so freely date as they can now. Back then, the idea was that the Welsh soon-to-be in-laws would watch over the man as he took painstaking efforts to craft the spoon, which would then be gifted to his bride on their wedding day.
Shoes are the Way to a Malaysian Girl’s Heart
Now, from old-timey traditions to something far more modern. If you happen to be a man in Malaysia, you should know that there’s only one way to a woman’s heart — shoes. Back in 2012 as part of a frankly genius marketing campaign, dating agency Lunch Actually and retailer Shoes, Shoes, Shoes teamed up to match single ladies with suitors based solely (see what I did there?) on their love of fine footwear.
So, how did this hair-brained scheme work? Well, it was pretty simple. Any given woman could walk into the Kuala Lumpur-based store, buy a pair of heels from the specific range and leave their details with the cashier. After that, they would be matched with a potential love interest (based on the shoes they bought) and a date would be arranged. What’s more, during the date, said guy would present them with a discount voucher for the very same store. Bonus.
The Dutch Like to Bundle Up Together
Finally, it’s perhaps the most romantic of all the dating rituals: bundling. Historically, young lovers in Holland would quite literally jump into bed with one another in the early stages of courtship. There was just one catch: they wouldn’t have sex. Instead, bundling or queesting was an act of intimacy which involved getting cozy beneath the sheets and engaging in everything from deep conversation to light-hearted banter. The idea was that the pair would get to know one another in this private setting and decide whether they were, in fact, made for one another.
Oh, and if you’ve heard the term before, it’s no huge surprise. In fact, in recent years, the word ‘queesting’ has burrowed its way into American-English slang. It even has an Urban Dictionary entry and the meaning hasn’t changed much, either. It is listed as “inviting a lover under the cover for the purposes of chit-chat.”