Today we are going to discuss Valentine's Day and the need to take cultural adaptation into account. This tradition is particularly popular in English-speaking countries but has spread to almost all the countries of the world.
Therefore, different cultures that have adopted the celebration have added their own cultural touches to it. These touches or differences must be identified when translating texts in greeting cards, marketing campaigns, etc.
So, as 14 February approaches, many companies develop marketing campaigns at a global level and this type of cultural idiosyncrasy needs to be borne in mind to generate a stronger impact on the target market. To achieve effective cultural adaptation, therefore, native translators are required who have an in-depth knowledge of the culture and its differences, as well as transcreation and copywriting techniques to adapt the message to the country's culture and produce a high quality cultural translation.
Cultural adaptation on Valentine's Day: examples and peculiarities
Japan: the most original
Here on 14 February, 'Giri-choco' is celebrated. It consists of women giving presents of chocolate to men. Furthermore, the type of chocolate given depends on the level of friendship or affection. The least pleasant chocolate to receive is the 'Cho-Giri-choco' (consolation chocolate), because it is the cheapest and what you receive when you only inspire indifference.
Luckily for the ladies, 14 March is ‘White Day’ (Howaito dee). Here those men who received chocolate, either out of affection or by social obligation, have to return the favour. Normally they do so with white chocolate, hence the name.
This Japanese tradition is similar in most Asian countries, but with subtle differences that you must take into account if you want to translate a marketing campaign for the Asian market.
Finland, Estonia and Mexico: friendship comes first
In Finland, 14 February is called 'Ystävän Päivä' which is translated as 'Friendship Day'. Finnish people normally focus more on friends than on their partners and dedicate this day to sending them greetings or little gifts as a token of friendship. Likewise in Estonia and Mexico. It is called the 'Day of Love and Friendship' in Mexico, and as the name implies, love in general is celebrated, not just among partners as in most countries, but focussing more on friends.
Germany: the German touch
Just as in most European countries, on 'Valentinstag' (Valentine's Day), love for one's partner is celebrated by giving flowers and sweets. However, they have their own tradition of giving miniature or chocolate pigs which symbolise luck and lust.
Saudi Arabia: prohibition and black market
Muslims are not allowed to celebrate the 'Love Festival' (as the Arabs call it 'Eed al-Hubb') for religious reasons, and a law has been passed prohibiting the sale of St. Valentine's items as presents. What is interesting is that this prohibition has given rise to a black market of red roses and other items.
In conclusion, when you undertake a global marketing campaign, you really need to know your target audience. Hence, cultural adaptation is needed, which requires transcreation techniques used by native translators. In this way, the message will sound as though it has been created specifically for the target country.