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Valentine's Day Around the World

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Today is Valentine's Day, a day set aside for romance and expressions of love and affection. The traditional western holiday has grown to be observed in many countries around the globe, despite some efforts to fight its adoption by religious and cultural groups. As couples exchange traditional gifts of flowers and chocolate, they fuel a robust industry in the United States, where Valentine's Day spending this year is expected to reach nearly $16 billion. Gathered here are images of this Valentine's Day from all around the world. [28 photos]

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Sontaya Tiemjun, left, and Praputson Mahavong, right, swing out on rappelling ropes during their wedding ceremony Sunday, Feb. 13, 2011 in Prachinburi province, Thailand. The mountainside ceremony has become a favorite of adventure seeking Thai couples looking to marry near or on Valentine's Day. (AP Photo/Wason Wanichakorn)
Sontaya Tiemjun, left, and Praputson Mahavong, right, swing out on rappelling ropes during their wedding ceremony Sunday, Feb. 13, 2011 in Prachinburi province, Thailand. The mountainside ceremony has become a favorite of adventure seeking Thai couples looking to marry near or on Valentine's Day. (AP Photo/Wason Wanichakorn)
Rose petals fall as Thai brides and grooms look up from a cliff side while rappelling during wedding ceremonies Sunday, Feb. 13, 2011 in Prachinburi province, Thailand. The mountainside ceremony has become a favorite of adventure seeking Thai couples looking to marry near or on Valentine's Day. (AP Photo/Wason Wanichakorn) #
Performers gather during a senior citizens parade celebrating Saint Valentine's Day in Guatemala City, Friday, Feb. 11, 2011. (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd) #
The personal profile page of an applicant hangs from bushes during a matchmaking event at People's Square in downtown Shanghai February 13, 2011. The page displays details such as her age, income, occupation and desired character traits in a prospective mate. The event is organized by dating companies and parents hoping to find partners for their children during the Chinese Lunar New Year holiday, a day before couples around the world celebrate Valentine's day on February 14. (REUTERS/Carlos Barria) #
Florist Susanne holds up roses for the Valentine's Day outside a flower shop in Germering near Munich, Germany on February 14, 2011. (REUTERS/Michaela Rehle) #
Chef Angelito Araneta Jr. prepares to mix a South Sea pearl and a one-carat African diamond to his Acqua Diamanti Necro Boteglia vodka edition in Manila February 10, 2011. The vodka, which contains 24-carat edible gold leaves, two South Sea pearls and a one-carat diamond, will be on sale on the upcoming Valentines Day for 489,000 pesos ($11,000) per bottle, according to Araneta. (REUTERS/Romeo Ranoco) #
Palestinians buy flowers for Valentine's Day in a shop in Gaza City, Monday, Feb. 14, 2011. (AP Photo/Adel Hana) #
Journalists take pictures and videos as a gay couple kisses at the location where a kissing contest was planning to be held on Valentine's Day at a business district in central Beijing February 14, 2011. Chinese homosexual groups sought for public support of same-sex marriage by organizing promotional campaigns on Valentine's Day. The homosexual couples were trying to take part in the kissing contest as part of their campaigns, but the contest was canceled by the organizers claiming that the former participants dropped out. (REUTERS/Petar Kujundzic) #
Iraqi Kurds decorate apples with cloves to offer it to their partners on Valentine's Day at a restaurant in the Kurdish city of Arbil in northern Iraq on February 14, 2010. The preservation of a red apple with cloves is a Kurdish tradition on the feast of love symbolizing Adam and Eve's relation with the apple representing love and prosperity. (SAFIN HAMED/AFP/Getty Images) #
Hindu nationalist Shiv Sena activists burn greeting cards during a protest against Valentine's Day celebrations in Jammu, India, Monday, Feb. 14, 2011. Hard-line Hindu groups routinely protest against the perceived invasion of Western culture into India. (AP Photo/Channi Anand) #
A vendor sells balloons tied in the shape of a heart for Valentine's Day in Beijing Monday, Feb. 14, 2011. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan) #
Women pose for photographs with a picture board displaying a wedding portrait of lesbian brides during a homosexuality promotion campaign on Valentine's Day at a business district in central Beijing February 14, 2011. Chinese homosexual groups seek for public support of same-sex marriage by organizing promotion campaigns on Valentine's Day. The boards display two wedding portraits of gay grooms and lesbian brides with their heads cut-out for people to take photos. (REUTERS/Petar Kujundzic) #
Couples kiss during a mass wedding ceremony to mark Valentine's Day in Taipei February 14, 2011. Around 25 couples tied the knot together on Monday with Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin as the witness for the ceremony. (REUTERS/Nicky Loh) #
In this Feb. 8, 2011 photo Hewitt Bruce, center, dances with Betty Fisch, left, at Edgewater Pointe Estates retirement community in Boca Raton, Florida Women often so greatly outnumber men in retirement communities that Valentine's Day can be a lonely time. But one development has found a solution to its perennial shortage of men at its dances: They're importing them. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee) #
A Pakistani boy selling balloons on Valentine's day walks along a road looking for customers in Islamabad, Pakistan, Monday, Feb. 14, 2011. (AP Photo/Muhammed Muheisen) #
A newlywed couple, Joey Bayo, 24 and his wife Lea, 20, plant a mangrove tree after a mass wedding of the theme "Love affairs with Nature", in San Jose town, Puerto Princesa, Palawan city, western Philippines on February 14, 2011. At least 150 couples were married on the Valentine's Day in Palawan. (REUTERS/Romeo Ranoco) #
Muslim women shout a slogan as they show placards during the Anti-Valentine's Day Campaign in Putrajaya outside Kuala Lumpur February 11, 2011. Malaysia on Friday launched a campaign to raise awareness among Muslims that Valentine's Day celebration is not a part of Islamic religious practice. The placards read "Beware the trap of Valentine's Day." (REUTERS/Bazuki Muhammad) #
A flower vendor waters his flowers while waiting for clients on Valentines Day in Harare, Zimbabwe Monday Feb.14, 2011. (AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi) #
"Blondie" is led to through the crowds during a Valentine's Day doggie wedding in Managua, Nicaragua, Sunday Feb 13, 2011. The event was organized by Fundacion Amarte, a local animal protection foundation. (AP Photo/Esteban Felix) #
A Bulgarian couple passes by red heart-shaped balloons for sale on a street in Sofia, Bulgaria on Monday, Feb. 14, 2011. Valentine's Day, named after the Christian patron saint for lovers, has gained popularity in Orthodox-dominated Bulgaria over the past few years. (AP Photo/Valentina Petrova) #
Aquarists Kathryn O'Connor and James Oliver fend off a giant green sea turtle as they part in a blessing on Valentine's Day in the Ocean Reef Display in the London Aquarium on February 14, 2011 in London, England. The couple, dressed in wedding finery and breathing apparatus, received their blessing surrounded by giant green sea turtles, cownose rays and shoals of colorful fish. (Oli Scarff/Getty Images) #
Chinese workers wrap up flowers for customers' orders ahead of Valentine's Day at a flower shop in Dongyang, in eastern China's Zhejiang province on February 13, 2011. (STR/AFP/Getty Images) #
Activists of the right-wing Hindu organisation the Shiv Sena damage Valentines day related products during a demonstration denouncing Valentine's Day in Amritsar on February 13, 2011. The Shiv Sena strongly oppose Valentine's Day celebrations citing them as a cultural invasion on the Hindu way of life. (NARINDER NANU/AFP/Getty Images) #
An engaged couple sits on a bicycle as they pose for wedding photographs to the theme of "naked wedding", on a pedestrian bridge on Valentine's Day in central Beijing February 14, 2011. "Naked wedding" is a popular new expression in China which means young couples get married with no houses, cars or little bank savings. (REUTERS/China Daily) #
A same sex couple kiss as they are being married during a mass wedding ceremony in Iztacalco in Mexico City February 12, 2011. A mass wedding ceremony was held for 311 couples on Saturday before Valentine's Day. (REUTERS/Jorge Dan Lopez) #
People walk with roses during a parade to celebrate Valentine`s Day on Istiklal Avenue on February 14, 2011, in Istanbul, Turkey. (BULENT KILIC/AFP/Getty Images) #
Witch apprentices, from left, Melisa, Casanndra, Alice and Esmeralda, aged between 13 and 15 years old, pose for a picture before taking part in a Valentine's Day ritual in Mogosoaia, Romania, Monday, Feb. 14, 2011. Romanian witches performed a lovers' day ritual crafted to help people find true love. (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda) #
A couple kisses on the Pont des Arts, on February 14, 2011 in Paris, during Valentine's day. (FRED DUFOUR/AFP/Getty Images) #
Rose petals fall as Thai brides and grooms look up from a cliff side while rappelling during wedding ceremonies Sunday, Feb. 13, 2011 in Prachinburi province, Thailand. The mountainside ceremony has become a favorite of adventure seeking Thai couples looking to marry near or on Valentine's Day. (AP Photo/Wason Wanichakorn) #
Performers gather during a senior citizens parade celebrating Saint Valentine's Day in Guatemala City, Friday, Feb. 11, 2011. (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd) #
The personal profile page of an applicant hangs from bushes during a matchmaking event at People's Square in downtown Shanghai February 13, 2011. The page displays details such as her age, income, occupation and desired character traits in a prospective mate. The event is organized by dating companies and parents hoping to find partners for their children during the Chinese Lunar New Year holiday, a day before couples around the world celebrate Valentine's day on February 14. (REUTERS/Carlos Barria) #
Florist Susanne holds up roses for the Valentine's Day outside a flower shop in Germering near Munich, Germany on February 14, 2011. (REUTERS/Michaela Rehle) #
Chef Angelito Araneta Jr. prepares to mix a South Sea pearl and a one-carat African diamond to his Acqua Diamanti Necro Boteglia vodka edition in Manila February 10, 2011. The vodka, which contains 24-carat edible gold leaves, two South Sea pearls and a one-carat diamond, will be on sale on the upcoming Valentines Day for 489,000 pesos ($11,000) per bottle, according to Araneta. (REUTERS/Romeo Ranoco) #
Palestinians buy flowers for Valentine's Day in a shop in Gaza City, Monday, Feb. 14, 2011. (AP Photo/Adel Hana) #
Journalists take pictures and videos as a gay couple kisses at the location where a kissing contest was planning to be held on Valentine's Day at a business district in central Beijing February 14, 2011. Chinese homosexual groups sought for public support of same-sex marriage by organizing promotional campaigns on Valentine's Day. The homosexual couples were trying to take part in the kissing contest as part of their campaigns, but the contest was canceled by the organizers claiming that the former participants dropped out. (REUTERS/Petar Kujundzic) #
Iraqi Kurds decorate apples with cloves to offer it to their partners on Valentine's Day at a restaurant in the Kurdish city of Arbil in northern Iraq on February 14, 2010. The preservation of a red apple with cloves is a Kurdish tradition on the feast of love symbolizing Adam and Eve's relation with the apple representing love and prosperity. (SAFIN HAMED/AFP/Getty Images) #
Hindu nationalist Shiv Sena activists burn greeting cards during a protest against Valentine's Day celebrations in Jammu, India, Monday, Feb. 14, 2011. Hard-line Hindu groups routinely protest against the perceived invasion of Western culture into India. (AP Photo/Channi Anand) #
A vendor sells balloons tied in the shape of a heart for Valentine's Day in Beijing Monday, Feb. 14, 2011. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan) #
Women pose for photographs with a picture board displaying a wedding portrait of lesbian brides during a homosexuality promotion campaign on Valentine's Day at a business district in central Beijing February 14, 2011. Chinese homosexual groups seek for public support of same-sex marriage by organizing promotion campaigns on Valentine's Day. The boards display two wedding portraits of gay grooms and lesbian brides with their heads cut-out for people to take photos. (REUTERS/Petar Kujundzic) #
Couples kiss during a mass wedding ceremony to mark Valentine's Day in Taipei February 14, 2011. Around 25 couples tied the knot together on Monday with Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin as the witness for the ceremony. (REUTERS/Nicky Loh) #
In this Feb. 8, 2011 photo Hewitt Bruce, center, dances with Betty Fisch, left, at Edgewater Pointe Estates retirement community in Boca Raton, Florida Women often so greatly outnumber men in retirement communities that Valentine's Day can be a lonely time. But one development has found a solution to its perennial shortage of men at its dances: They're importing them. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee) #
A Pakistani boy selling balloons on Valentine's day walks along a road looking for customers in Islamabad, Pakistan, Monday, Feb. 14, 2011. (AP Photo/Muhammed Muheisen) #
A newlywed couple, Joey Bayo, 24 and his wife Lea, 20, plant a mangrove tree after a mass wedding of the theme "Love affairs with Nature", in San Jose town, Puerto Princesa, Palawan city, western Philippines on February 14, 2011. At least 150 couples were married on the Valentine's Day in Palawan. (REUTERS/Romeo Ranoco) #
Muslim women shout a slogan as they show placards during the Anti-Valentine's Day Campaign in Putrajaya outside Kuala Lumpur February 11, 2011. Malaysia on Friday launched a campaign to raise awareness among Muslims that Valentine's Day celebration is not a part of Islamic religious practice. The placards read "Beware the trap of Valentine's Day." (REUTERS/Bazuki Muhammad) #
A flower vendor waters his flowers while waiting for clients on Valentines Day in Harare, Zimbabwe Monday Feb.14, 2011. (AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi) #
"Blondie" is led to through the crowds during a Valentine's Day doggie wedding in Managua, Nicaragua, Sunday Feb 13, 2011. The event was organized by Fundacion Amarte, a local animal protection foundation. (AP Photo/Esteban Felix) #
A Bulgarian couple passes by red heart-shaped balloons for sale on a street in Sofia, Bulgaria on Monday, Feb. 14, 2011. Valentine's Day, named after the Christian patron saint for lovers, has gained popularity in Orthodox-dominated Bulgaria over the past few years. (AP Photo/Valentina Petrova) #
Aquarists Kathryn O'Connor and James Oliver fend off a giant green sea turtle as they part in a blessing on Valentine's Day in the Ocean Reef Display in the London Aquarium on February 14, 2011 in London, England. The couple, dressed in wedding finery and breathing apparatus, received their blessing surrounded by giant green sea turtles, cownose rays and shoals of colorful fish. (Oli Scarff/Getty Images) #
Chinese workers wrap up flowers for customers' orders ahead of Valentine's Day at a flower shop in Dongyang, in eastern China's Zhejiang province on February 13, 2011. (STR/AFP/Getty Images) #
Activists of the right-wing Hindu organisation the Shiv Sena damage Valentines day related products during a demonstration denouncing Valentine's Day in Amritsar on February 13, 2011. The Shiv Sena strongly oppose Valentine's Day celebrations citing them as a cultural invasion on the Hindu way of life. (NARINDER NANU/AFP/Getty Images) #
An engaged couple sits on a bicycle as they pose for wedding photographs to the theme of "naked wedding", on a pedestrian bridge on Valentine's Day in central Beijing February 14, 2011. "Naked wedding" is a popular new expression in China which means young couples get married with no houses, cars or little bank savings. (REUTERS/China Daily) #
A same sex couple kiss as they are being married during a mass wedding ceremony in Iztacalco in Mexico City February 12, 2011. A mass wedding ceremony was held for 311 couples on Saturday before Valentine's Day. (REUTERS/Jorge Dan Lopez) #
People walk with roses during a parade to celebrate Valentine`s Day on Istiklal Avenue on February 14, 2011, in Istanbul, Turkey. (BULENT KILIC/AFP/Getty Images) #
Witch apprentices, from left, Melisa, Casanndra, Alice and Esmeralda, aged between 13 and 15 years old, pose for a picture before taking part in a Valentine's Day ritual in Mogosoaia, Romania, Monday, Feb. 14, 2011. Romanian witches performed a lovers' day ritual crafted to help people find true love. (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda) #
A couple kisses on the Pont des Arts, on February 14, 2011 in Paris, during Valentine's day. (FRED DUFOUR/AFP/Getty Images) #

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