Originally published Thursday, February 13, 2020 at 09:32p.m.

Happy Valentine’s Day, Quad Cities!

Did you know Valentine’s Day is a global holiday? Around the world, in the month of February, people gather together to celebrate love with traditions as diverse as the people themselves.

In Germany pigs are a symbol of love or casual attraction. They exchange pig -themed chocolates, cards, figurines, and keep the holiday “adults only.”

In South Korea, Valentine’s Day is more of a “season.” Women give men chocolates on the 14th, then a month later, men give their gifts to their women on “White Day.” If by April you are still single, then it is customary to eat black noodles.

In Japan they celebrate Valentine’s Day much like South Korea, however there are different grades of chocolate used to express where in the relationship a woman stands with a man. They even have a chocolate category called, “Obligation Chocolate” which is the lowest grade of the candy, made for people to be able to exchange without serious emotional attachments.

In France, it is customary for couples to install locks on gates and bridges and throw away the keys, a ritual you’ll also see evidence of in Downtown Prescott, just below Gurley Street near The Point Bar. I noticed the defiant padlocks glinting in the sun, their mechanisms locked forever (or until someone decides a bolt cutter is in order) entwined in the flimsy yet authoritative chain link fencing along the sidewalk. I was picking up Indian food one Sunday afternoon and felt a surge of pride for our town, its Whiskey Row lovers and for their brazen and blatant display of love and affection.

It’s lovely to witness love in all of its forms, shapes and sizes, and to reflect for a moment on the idea the V-Day isn’t just a sea of red hearts dancing like neurotic Care Bears, taunting us with failed expectations of love; that Valentine’s Day is, in fact, what we make it.

In the spirit of self-care and self-survival, here are some ways I believe we can all celebrate Valentine’s Day with more zeal and allow us to hold space for new expressions of love.

Do something kind for your parents

Odds are your parents were your first Valentines. Make the day special by celebrating the love you have for them in a way unique to your family. Gestures of love don’t have to be grand but they do need to be genuine.

Let your lover off the hook. Talk about Valentine’s Day expectations early.

Waiting for an engagement? For your husband or wife to finally buy you that “thing you want?” Communicate it. If you can’t communicate your needs, hopes and expectations to your lover, then your dreams with that person and ultimately yourself are paper tigers. How can anyone know what you really want if you don’t find a way to communicate it clearly?

Make it about other people

Use holidays like this as teachable moments for the kids in your life. Help the youngsters in your life to feel special. Odds are there are plenty of peers making them feel “less than” — especially for those young adults just entering the dating pool. Be a “love hero” and model appropriate and elegant affection etiquette by making your kids feel special, thought of and heard.

Take a trip around the world. There are so many fascinating cultures on our planet. Spin the globe and pick one. Engaging in cultural education enriches not only your life, but enlivens your sphere of influence.

Treat Yourself — Everyone SHOULD be in a romantic relationship — with themselves! It’s cliche and true — if you don’t know how to love yourself, you cannot authentically love another. This weekend, fall in love with yourself, date yourself, treat yourself and give to yourself. Modeling self-care helps those around you to treat you with the care you long for.