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Flowers, chocolates and flash mobs: Valentine's Day celebrations around the world

The Associated Press
Wednesday 14 February 2024 22:33 GMT
Valentine's Day: Fun family activities

Flowers, chocolates, handwritten cards — and flash mobs.

People around the world expressed their love in myriad ways on Valentine's Day: hanging hundreds of paper hearts in the streets to honor a recently deceased “Valentine's Day Bandit" in Portland, Maine; vowing to cherish and obey democracy by casting votes in Valentine's Day-themed polling stations in Indonesia; and donning heart-shaped sunglasses at a victory rally for the Super Bowl-winning Kansas City Chiefs.

Images captured by Associated Press photographers around the globe Wednesday showed love is a many-faceted emotion, employed not just to root for long-lasting romances but to fight for justice and counteract anger and hatred.

In Rome, activists wearing matching red-and-black T-shirts reading “One Billion Rising” created a flash mob at the famed Spanish Steps to call for an end to violence against women and girls. In Kenya's capital of Nairobi, women held candles and flowers during a “Dark Valentine” vigil to protest the deaths of at least 16 women police believe were killed by their partners this year.

In Washington, D.C., where the vitriol of politics usually reigns, giant fake candy hearts reading “keep the faith,” “reach out” and “be kind" sprouted from the White House Lawn, and pink-and-red paper valentine's greetings covered the walls of the East Landing. One enormous card from President Joe Biden's first lady read, “Happy Valentine’s Day 2024. Xoxo Jill.”

For many, love means having a sense of humor, whether it's gathering to celebrate being "married for one day” and mounting life-size kissing skeletons at a “'Til Death Do Us Part” installation in Bucharest, Romania, or carving a dozen hearts and scrawling the message “I love my wife” in the dirt covering the back of a van after a nor'easter in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Tradition also had its place. Couples embraced in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower in Paris, viewed by many as the City of Love; posed for a selfie in front of a hotel in St. Petersburg, Russia, where windows were lit to form a heart; or bought heart-shaped balloons from vendors next to the Bosphorus in Istanbul.

In the ultimate gesture of Valentine's Day, Justin Shady proposed to his girlfriend, Nicolette Miller, with a giant, lit-up billboard during a Love in Times Square event in New York. She said “yes,” and amid floating streamers and clouds of confetti, the couple sealed the deal with a kiss.

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