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A Tribute to Pat Kramer, Writer For Hire, by Congressman Adam Schiff

28th Congressional District Woman of the Year

I rise today in honor of Women’s History Month. Each year, we pay special tribute to the contributions and sacrifices made by our nation’s women. It is an honor to pay homage to outstanding women who are making a difference in my Congressional District. I would like to recognize a remarkable woman, Pat Kramer of Sunland-Tujunga, California.

Pat Kramer is a communications expert who creates original content for business and corporate entities for their marketing, outreach and public relations efforts. For over thirty years, she has worked as a consultant to companies in education, entertainment, healthcare, financial services, real estate, transportation, politics, arts and culture, cities, agencies and non-profit organizations to improve their communications materials. Over the course of her career, Ms. Kramer has written for the Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles Business Journal, Variety, City News, and many industry-based publications.  

Today, Pat focuses on ghostwriting memoirs, books and articles for her clients, and especially enjoys writing memoirs for senior citizens to help preserve their legacy for future generations. Pat is a regular guest speaker at various business events, and shares her expertise educating public high school students who are interested in communications careers. Some of the professional organizations Pat has been a member of include the National Association of Women Business Owners, Entertainment Publicists Professional Society, Independent Writers of Southern California and Business & Professional Women of Sunland-Tujunga.

A dedicated volunteer in her community, Pat’s activities include over thirty years of participation in the Sierra Club, Angeles Chapter, where she has held leadership positions and advocates for issues affecting the quality of life in the foothills. A Sunland Tujunga Neighborhood Council (STNC) member for many years, some of her accomplishments on the council include helping to complete a decade-long project to create a new community park in Sunland, Oro Vista Park, as Inventory Chairperson, organizing the STNC’s 2017 move to North Valley City Hall, which involved managing volunteers, overseeing inventory of supplies and historical records, and co-chairing the 2018 STNC’s Emergency Preparedness Day. In addition, Pat chaired the Ad Hoc Signage Committee and currently chairs the STNC’s Safe Traffic and Transportation Committee, which creates informative monthly meetings about improving safety on Sunland-Tujunga’s streets.

In addition to her outstanding work in the community, Ms. Kramer is passionate about animal rescue work, and has been working to try to initiate the City of Los Angeles’ Department of Animal Service’s Volunteer Animal Officer program and supports other worthwhile animal rescue organizations.

Born and raised in Worcester, Massachusetts, Pat credits her grandparents, immigrants from the Ukraine, with teaching her good values, instilling in her the importance of hard work, while encouraging her to follow her dreams. As a result of doing what she loves and thanks to her grandparents’ influence, Pat’s full life includes hiking, gardening and caring for her three rescue dogs.

I ask all Members to join me in honoring this exceptional, well-respected woman of California’s 28th Congressional District, Pat Kramer.

An Insider’s View of Indie Publishing Four Successful Authors Share Their Views

Last night, June 11, 2018, I attended a seminar held by the Publishers Association of Los Angeles featuring four successful authors with a chockfull of tips on online publishing. This was one of the most informative seminars I’ve attended – and I frequently attend these type of events so that I can update my knowledge to further help my writing and publicity clients.

The four authors included a bestselling children’s book author, a non-fiction book coach who’s authored a series of instructional books for educators, the author of a bestselling series of books for writers and wanna-be writers, and the author of a series of fiction novels. Each had their own style of writing and marketing and I enjoyed their willingness to share their experience in getting their books out to the public.

Since the focus was on online publishing and e-books (including Kindle), the seminar started with a discussion about the mechanics of online publishing, i.e., creating the interior design, designing the cover, how to acquire the ISBN, whether to publish on Kindle Direct Unlimited, and the use of QR codes that can take a potential buyer to a marketing video (he called it a “book trailer.”

Next, we heard about each author’s efforts toward getting publicity, including writing press releases as opposed to hiring a book publicist (like myself!) and different ways to market their books using social media. We also talked about holding ‘author events’ and building an email list to use when launching a new book. Everyone pretty much agreed it was a waste of money to purchase a mailing list and was ultimately best to build relationships first before trying to sell your product.

Getting book reviews was the next item of discussion: how to solicit these and how to find online reviewers who would be willing to do this for you. We also heard about the benefits of using a survey which could be sent to readers/purchasers of your book and how positive reviews on the survey could be repurposed on the back cover.

In conjunction with the effort involved with creating a press kit, which could be uploaded to your author website, we talked about using Amazon’s marketing series – a little pricey perhaps but which one author stood behind saying it doubled his sales. Facebook ads were also discussed as well as other forms of online advertising.

In conclusion, each author told us what they considered the best thing that came out of their being authors:

1. One author talked about converting his online advertising into revenue.

2. A second said he enjoyed giving presentations and meeting the public.

3. A third said she loved getting positive reviews of her books.

4. And the fourth said she liked being visible and developing camaraderie with her audience and vendors.

As always, I could have stayed way longer than the hour and a half this seminar took because it was so refreshing to connect with other writers and learn from those who have had success in related areas of business.

I want to thank the Publishers Association of Los Angeles (PALA) which puts on innovative and highly-formidable seminars each month for the general public. My deepest appreciation goes to moderator Robin Quinn, a fellow writer, editor and book coach, nonfiction book coach and author Carol J. Amato who is also the owner of Stargazer publishing; Christopher J. Lynch – author of the award winning “One Eyed Jack” series, Derek Doepker, author of six best-selling personal development books; and the award winning children’s book author Alva Sachs. You guys made my night and with your wise counsel, I will be better.

Pat Kramer, aka “Writer For Hire®” is a professional writing service for business professionals, providing high quality, consistently high-rated content to advertise, promote, or market companies’ services and products. Additionally, Pat Kramer provides ghostwriting and publicity services for authors and writes personal memoirs for individuals who want to have a record of their life’s experiences. For more info, please visit: https://www.writerpatkramer.com.  

 

ALL I WANT FOR BREAKFAST IS TOAST WITH SLICED CHEESE: A TRIBUTE TO MY DAD

As I was eating my toast with sliced cheese this morning, I had a flashback to my dad, Lester Kramer, sitting across the table from me at his home in Framingham, Massachusetts ten years ago. My dad was sick with cancer and nearing his last year of life, but I remember so well his simple contentment with a breakfast of toast and sliced cheese. I realized in that moment that I had taken on some of my dad’s habits – not only his culinary “likes” but his speech and expressions, and also his appreciation for nature, birds, and the beauty that one tends to see when we aren’t preoccupied with everything else in our busy lives.

But getting back to the toast, I started thinking about the different kinds of toast my dad loved: light rye, dark rye and pumpernickel – all reflections of his early life in Worcester, MA during the depression years. It was a very different time: loaves of bread probably sold for ten cents and sitting at the table with your family in the morning and having breakfast was a real event.

I thought about how my dad and my grandfather tried to pass on these traditions to me by taking me, as a small child, to Water Street – then, the Jewish commercial section of Worcester, where there were two bakeries (Lederman’s and Widoff’s), a produce market (Sheppie’s), and two good delis (The Broadway and Weintraub’s). I have fond memories of shopping for produce with my grandfather when I was six or seven years old.

Many years later, I got one of my earliest jobs working at Widoff’s Bakery as counter help. It didn’t last long – maybe three months – but I got to be a part of what was a very important business in my community and of course, I got to learn humility by working very hard for minimum wage!

What I know now, as an adult, is that bakers are a very unrecognized and under-appreciated profession. These are people who are up at 3 a.m. to bake fresh bread, muffins, pastries and other delicacies that we take for granted. They don’t make much money and it’s very hard work as well as very long days.

So today, I’m reflecting on the memories I still hold dear from my childhood of that time from the past when my dad and I got to share breakfast and he commented that all he really wanted for breakfast was a piece of toast with cheese (not melted) and a sliced orange – and that was enough.

Today, I’m so grateful that I can relive these memories. They are all valuable reference points to who I am as a person and the values I carry forward.

–       ###-

Pat Kramer, aka “Writer For Hire,” is a professional business writer, ghostwriter, and content & social media writer who helps individuals better express themselves and improve the visibility of their business branding campaigns. For more info, see: www.writerpatkramer.com.

Writer For Hire® Pat Kramer to Share Life Journey with Los Angeles’ Inner – City High Schoolers

Media Inquiries:  For more information, please contact: Pat Kramer

818 353-5699 pat@writerpatkramer.com

Los Angeles, CA (March 23, 2016) – Writer For Hire Pat Kramer, a veteran business copywriter and ghostwriter, today announced that she will share highlights of her 30 year career journey with inner city high school students at Oscar de la Hoya High School on Wednesday, April 20 and at Animo Inglewood High School on May 18th.  The two, one hour presentations are in partnership with the Youth Business Alliance (YBA), a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that focuses on bringing critical 21st century business skills and perspectives into the classroom. Pat will be presenting tips on how she went from a “wanna-be writer” in high school to a professional journalist and corporate copywriter in Los Angeles.

The Youth Business Alliance invited Ms. Kramer to share her experiences and achievements over the time she has built her career in an effort to provide high school students with a broader perspective of what it takes to be successful. The YBA was formed in 2012 with one disadvantaged school and has since grown to include 14 high schools serving roughly 350 disadvantaged students each year through its year-long after school course “Introduction to Business & Careers.”

Pat started her career as a radio news broadcaster and journalist working for radio stations in New England. To get her foot in the door of this incredibly limited and competitive industry, Pat had to work every shift around the clock, including all-night at one radio station in Newport, Rhode Island and then a split-shift at the next where she covered both “morning drive time” and “afternoon drive time.”

“I have never worked as hard in my life as I did at the start of my career,” says Pat, who notes that hard work and determination are the winning formula for anyone starting out in the job market. “Most people in their early ‘20s opt out when the going gets tough, but I stuck with it and advanced in my career to the point where I eventually got to call the shots.”

Looking back on her career of 30+ years as a news writer, ghostwriter, and marketing and public relations consultant, Pat believes the challenges she faced led to a tenacity that has helped her succeed in business when other writers have closed down their shops. “I believe all the challenges I have had to face ultimately gave me a wealth of experience in life and now, I’m giving back by helping the youth of today get started on their own career path.”

Speaking before the public is not new to Pat. Over the years, she has presented workshops and seminars for business leaders in a wide variety of industries on how to better communicate their branding messages by using news-oriented press releases, professionally-written articles for trade publications, and blogs on the social media. Pat is a recognized business leader and an active member of her business community in Sunland-Tujunga. She is also an advocate for humane treatment of animals and the ghostwriter of several books and memoirs.

For more information, please visit: www.writerpatkramer.com

About Writer For Hire 

Writer For Hire® Pat Kramer specializes in developing informational, editorial, promotional and ghostwritten content for companies and individuals all over the world. Her press releases have helped first-time authors reach “best seller” status on Amazon.com, while her media outreach campaigns have elevated formerly unknown business professionals to “thought leaders” in their industries. Known as Writer For Hire® since 1990, Pat has written more than 1,000 articles for local, national and well respected industry publications.

 

 

Write About Your Experiences

          When I was a young woman in college, my journalism professor asked me to write about a life experience that had influenced me to choose my major in Mass Communications. I remembered how moved I was, as an elementary school student, in reading about the life of Anne Frank as written in her diary during WWII. Anne’s honesty about her feelings and experiences, living with her family and neighbors in close quarters, hidden behind a wall, captured my interest and imagination. It was from that experience that I decided to become a writer.
           So my question to you today is: what experience do you recall from your past that acted as a motivator for you to do what you now do for a profession? Was it a person, an event, someone you met or spoke to, saw in a movie, read about in a book or article, or was it some other influence that touched your heart?
           We all have life experience from the work that we now do and that life experience makes for good stories. Telling a story is the best way to capture the attention of your audience as it brings to life an experience that others can relate to or learn from.
           The next time you are thinking about writing a blog, just think of a life experience that you had or are having — and then write about it.
            If you need help in putting your thoughts on paper, I am always happy to collaborate with others to capture the essence of what they are trying to express. Writing for me is a labor of love. Please contact me if you have any questions about something that you would like to write – for business or personal use. I’m always willing to listen and provide feedback.
            For more information, please visit: www.writerpatkramer.com or email: pat@writerpatkramer.com.

What Makes You Different or Better Than Your Competition?

This morning I attended an interesting presentation by Eloqui, which is a consultancy that helps business people improve their speaking presentations. As part of a group of 30 or so business people, I was asked to recall from my background anything that could have contributed to my success in my career as a writer for businesses.

I thought about it and recalled that, as early as 8 years old, I loved to read. Not only did I love to read, but I also loved to write. Reading expanded my vocabulary and writing helped me put into action the words I was learning from the many authors I read. Consequently, I learned to love stories about people, their lives, their experiences, and their difficulties and challenges. Mostly, I loved reading about how people had overcome their challenges and learned to use them in ways that were truly inspiring.

My interest in reading and writing led me to Emerson College where I graduated with a degree in Mass Communications. I then used my education to land a job as a radio news reporter – and later as a print news journalist – to tell people stories. That’s essentially what news journalists do: they tell stories about what they see, hear, or experience. Of course, there’s a formula that we have to use in distilling that information to the public, but broken down in its simplest terms, I learned how to tell stories about my subjects, both as a writer and a speaker.

Today, I use my love for story telling in writing about my clients: their accomplishments, their challenges, how they solve problems for their clients, and how they use their experience in unique ways to differentiate themselves (and their companies) from their competition.

Today’s exercise was a valuable one: it reminded me why, as Writer For Hire, I am unique and different from other writers in my field. I know that if you are reading this, you also can use your experience, challenges, and love for what you do in your business.

Writer For Hire Pat Kramer is a business writer, ghostwriter, and social media pro with 30 years’ experience in the news media and as a business writer and marketing/PR strategist. For more information, please visit: www.writerpatkramer.com.

LOCAL RESIDENTS TO LEARN MORE ABOUT EFFORTS TO COMBAT METHAMPHETAMINE USE IN SUNLAND-TUJUNGA

Drug-fueled crimes and fear-inducing encounters with methamphetamine users in the Sunland-Tujunga community will be the focus of the next Sunland-Tujunga Neighborhood Watch meeting, taking place on Tuesday, March 21, 2017 at 6 p.m. at North Valley City Hall, 7747 Foothill Boulevard, Tujunga. This meeting brings together residents who have experienced run-ins with those on drugs and families who need resources to deal with their meth-afflicted family members, with the Los Angeles Police Department Senior Lead Officers, and their SMART and PET Teams which provide services to those with mental health issues and drug addictions in Los Angeles and L.A. County.

Whether or not a resident has reported a crime, this information can be very valuable as it will provide direction on what to say and what “not” to say to amped-up individuals whom they may encounter on their street or property. “Knowing what to do to protect one’s property and to ensure one’s peace of mind is the utmost concern of our community,” states Jon von Gunten, Neighborhood Watch representative to the Sunland-Tujunga Neighborhood Council. “Of course it’s always best to document individuals who may be committing a crime, but if that puts you in harm’s way, then it’s best to protect your safety first.”

This meeting was organized along with Region 1 (Sunland) representative Pat Kramer, who has received numerous calls from stakeholders in north Sunland, as well as in other parts of the Sunland-Tujunga community regarding this growing issue. “Residents are angry and they have a right to be,” says Kramer. “In some cases, their property has been damaged or stolen or they have personally been threatened by individuals who we suspect were trying to generate money for their drug habit. We can’t turn our backs on this issue any longer. There has to be a course of action that makes people feel safe and if it isn’t being addressed by the LAPD, then it needs to be by some other agency.”

The Sunland Tujunga Neighborhood Council holds regular board meetings on the second Wednesday of every month at 6:30 p.m. at North Valley City Hall. Additionally, the Neighborhood Watch, which is a division of STNC, holds three monthly meetings to address crime issues:

The Tujunga – specific Neighborhood Watch meeting takes place on the first Tuesday of every month at McDonald’s restaurant, 6510 Foothill Boulevard, in the children’s play room, at 8:30 a.m. with Senior Lead Officer Gloria Caloca.

The Sunland – specific Neighborhood Watch meeting takes place on the first Wednesday of every month at Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices training room, 8307 Foothill Boulevard, in Sunland at 8:30 a.m. with Senior Lead Officer Cesar Contreras.

The combined Sunland-Tujunga Neighborhood Watch meeting takes place on the 3rd Tuesday of every month at North Valley City Hall, 7747 Foothill Boulevard, Tujunga at 6 p.m. Parking is in the rear parking lot on Wyngate.

For more information on what STNC can help you with, contact Jon Von Gunten, STNC Neighborhood Watch Rep at: jonvgstnc@hotmail.com, Pat Kramer, STNC Region 1 Rep at: patkramerstnc@gmail.com or Ana Orudyan, Region 1 Rep at: anaorudyanstnc@gmail.com.

To report a crime, call: 911 for any emergency or a crime in progress. Otherwise, call the LAPD FOOTHILL STATION: 818-756-8861, for guidance, admin & follow-up. Additionally, you can contact 877-ASK-LAPD (877-275-5273) for other non-emergencies.

Additionally, here are some helpful phone numbers and emails to have on hand:

Call Senior Lead Officers for non-emergencies like suspicious or dicey people, excess noise, illegal parking, and speeders: 818-756-8866.

GANGS, DRUGS: Lt. Solano: 818-897-6081 or email: 26339@lapd.lacity.org

NARCOTICS: Det. Coyle, 818-834-3136, 33128@lapd.lacity.org

TRAFFIC: Officer Flores, (818) 644-8142, 30658@lapd.lacity.org

Remember to report every crime factually to LAPD: Accurate reports help with getting more police cars and officers!

 

DURING WINTER RAINS, PAY ATTENTION TO THESE SAFETY TIPS

Southern California has had a higher than average rainfall this winter and with the rain comes trouble:

While heavy rain and flash flooding is uncommon for our local region, when those storms do come – as we have seen during February’s rains – the consequences can range from heavy traffic with accidents to property damage from flooding. With the fires many areas experienced in 2016, hillsides are now unstable and this promotes the possibility of landslides, mud flows and boulders in the road.

While state and local officials from the weather service and other agencies continue to warn people of dangers from moving water, there is a curiousity factor that brings certain people during major storms – while still others just continue to ignore the warnings.

Why it is NEVER safe to drive or walk into flood waters
Most people underestimate the force and power of moving water. According to the National Weather Service, more deaths occur due to flooding than from any other thunderstorm related hazard. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 50% of all flood-related drownings occur from a vehicle being driven into hazardous flood water. The next highest percentage of flood-related deaths comes from people walking into or near flood waters.
Did you know that a mere 6 inches of fast-moving flood water can knock over an adult?
Twelve inches of rushing water can carry away a small car while 24 inches of rushing water will carry away almost any type of vehicle.

Many of the deaths from drowning occur in automobiles as they are swept downstream. Of these drownings, many are preventable, but too many people continue to drive around the barriers that warn you the road is flooded.

When a major storm with rainfall has occurred, motorists and hikers should be extra vigilant. Here are some safety tips from the Los Angeles County Office of Emergency Management that will help keep you safe through the winter’s rains:

• Listen to the local radio stations or watch television for warnings about storm and/or heavy rainfall in your area regarding emergency public information and instructions.

• Be aware of any sudden increase or decrease in water level on a stream or creek that might indicate debris mudflow upstream. A trickle of flowing mud may precede a larger flow.

• Look for tilted trees, telephone poles, fences or walls, and for new holes or bare spots on hillsides.

• Listen for rumbling sounds that might indicate an approaching landslide or mudflow.

• Be alert when driving. Roads may become blocked or closed due to collapsed pavement or debris.

• If a landslide and/or debris flow occurs, danger is imminent, quickly move away from the path of the slide. Getting out of the path of the slide and/or debris mudflow is your best protection. Move to the nearest high ground in a direction away from the path. If rocks and debris are approaching, run to the nearest shelter and take cover.

• If your property is damaged or compromised, consult a professional geotechnical expert for advice on the landslide and or corrective actions you and your loved ones can take.

By using caution and staying off the roads during heavy rains, you can avoid the increased risk of being involved in an accident this winter.

Pat Kramer, aka “Writer For Hire,” writes marketing, public relations and communications materials, helping businesses gain more visibility. Pat is a business consultant, ghostwriter, and a contributing writer to the Crescenta Valley Weekly. For more info, go to: www.writerpatkramer.com.

WHAT THE HOLIDAYS MEAN TO ME

Typically, the “holiday season” is a slow time for my business. Most business people are focused on spending time with their families and are not yet thinking about their marketing or publicity plans for the New Year. I respect my clients’ need for time off and I appreciate having that time to myself to reflect on what the holidays really mean to me.

In previous years, I’ve felt a lot of pressure to produce gifts – not just the average gift, but really great gifts for my loved ones. That requires some time and ingenuity to shop for a specific gift with each person in mind. Fortunately, I gave up this practice a few years ago because I realized that it is much easier to ask people what they want and then get it for them. While there isn’t a “surprise factor” in the giving of the gift, there’s also no remorse or need for someone to return a gift that they didn’t really want or can’t use. By opening up the channels of communication with my family and friends, I have been able to save myself a lot of anxiety and stress and best of all, I don’t have to compete with the throngs of holiday shoppers in the parking garages or shopping malls across America.

So what do the holidays really mean to me? It comes down to a simple message: It’s about loving and appreciating the ones who are in my life – my family, friends, neighbors and clients. This is a great time to say “thank you.”

So thank you to all of my friends and business associates “out there” in the virtual world who are reading this. Thank you for sharing your expertise with me in your chosen fields and thank you for asking me to help you with mine!

I hope this next year is a good one for us all. I hope that we’ll be able to overcome any differences and be able to share a strong bond of support with our business objectives.

Be well, enjoy your life each day, and celebrate those who are in your life. I wish you a beautiful holiday and a prosperous 2017!

VALENTINE’S DAY: IT’S NOT JUST FOR COUPLES

The History of Valentine’s Day and What It Has Come to Mean Today 

Valentine’s Day is a holiday that most people observe due to its popularity in our culture. But where did it begin and why do we set aside the date of February 14th each year for this observance?  That is the question I aimed to answer in researching this holiday tha170px-BigPinkHeartt is now widely observed worldwide.

Historical references of a Valentine’s Day- like holiday during February go back to Ancient Greece which celebrated the month of Gamelion from mid-January to mid-February in honoring the sacred marriage of Zeus and Hera. Meanwhile, in Ancient Rome, a celebration of fertility was taking place at the festival of Lupercalia, February 13–15.

Valentine’s Day or “Saint Valentine’s Day” actually dates back to the early Christian era in Ancient Rome with a liturgical celebration of Saint Valentinus who was martyred for ministering to Christians and secretly providing marriages for Roman soldiers, who were prohibited to marry.  In Slovenia, Saint Valentine or “Zdravko” later became the patron saint of beekeepers and pilgrims in association with good health and the season of spring. Saint Valentine is also celebrated as the patron saint of Lebanon by a large portion of the population.

Chaucer is Commonly Associated with Valentine’s Day Being an Observance of Love

About 1,000 years later, English poet Geoffrey Chaucer wrote “Parlement of Foules” in 1382:

“For this was on seynt Volantynys day, Whan euery bryd comyth there to chese his make.”

[“For this was on St. Valentine’s Day, when every bird cometh there to choose his mate.”]

That poem is attributed to the creation of the holiday of Valentine’s Day as a testament to romantic love.

The Holiday Originates in England and Then Comes to America Through Worcester, MA Artist

The trend of exchanging hand-made valentines started growing in England in the 18th century then grew to include gifts of flowers and confectionaries. When Worcester, Massachusetts artist Esther Howland received an ornate valentine from a business associate of her father’s in 1847, she decided to begin producing her own with imported lace and paper from England.  Her business quickly grew as the trend expanded with her earning $100,000 a year from her small business. Esther, a graduate of Mt. Holyoke College, has since become known as the “Mother of the American Valentine” and my hometown of Worcester, MA is known as the “Heart of the Commonwealth,” with a heart as its official symbol.

During the 2nd half of the 20th century, gifts like roses and heart-shaped boxes of chocolate also became popular for Valentine’s Day. In the 1980’s, the diamond industry joined the fray by promoting Valentine’s Day as a time for getting engaged and for special jewelry purchases.

Today, the Greeting Card Association estimates over one billion paper valentines are exchanged each year in the United States with teachers receiving the most highest percentage. Digital communications have further expanded Valentine’s Day as e-cards and love coupons have become available.

How Other Countries Celebrate Valentine’s Day

In many Latin American countries including: Mexico, Columbia, Costa Rica and Puerto Rico, Valentine’s Day is known as “El Día de los Enamorados” (Day of Lovers) or as “Día del Amor y la Amistad” (Day of Love and Friendship). In Guatemala, “Día del Cariño” (Affection Day) is celebrated on February 14th while in other countries, both Día del Amor y la Amistad and the Amigo Secreto (“Secret Friend”) are celebrated together.

Since 1992, India has partaken in the holiday. This trend has actually changed the very old customs regarding displays of public affection more than any other ritual since the Middle Ages. Russia, too, observes Valentine’s Day now and has since the fall of the USSR.

Of the Asian countries, Singapore is noted to have the highest expenditure for Valentine’s Day gift giving, followed by South Korea and China.  Japan, Taiwan, China and South Korea celebrate the holiday with women giving gifts of chocolate to men, who then reciprocate by giving chocolates and other gifts to women on “White Day,” celebrated March 14th.

In the Philippines, Valentine’s Day is called Araw ng mga Pusò (“Day of Hearts”) and is celebrated in much the same manner as in the West.  In Spain, Wales, Scandinavia, Romania, Portugal, France, Finland and Estonia, Valentine’s Day is often celebrated as a romantic holiday.

Where NOT to Celebrate Valentine’s Day

Traditional Hindu and Islamic countries oppose the practice of Valentine’s Day, believing it to be cultural contamination from the West. These countries include Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Iran and parts of India. In 2014, religious police in Saudi Arabia were reported to have arrested five men for celebrating St. Valentine’s Day in the company of six women. The Buraidah criminal court pronounced sentences totaling 32 years’ imprisonment and 4,500 lashes to the men.

Do You Have to Be “In Love” to Celebrate?

For a long time, singles were stigmatized by the Valentine’s Day holiday, feeling ‘left out’ of the celebration or sometimes seeing it as a failure in the romantic department.  As the holiday has taken on more of a commercial glare, it’s important to note its origins as a celebration of the spring, of birds finding their mates, or as a good time to plant crops. Whether you celebrate Valentine’s Day with chocolates, roses, greeting cards — or not at all, the sentiment of love and appreciation is what this holiday is really all about.