16 Tales of Love and Obsession to Help You Survive Valentine's Day - Atlas Obscura
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16 Tales of Love and Obsession to Help You Survive Valentine’s Day

Lovers’ padlocks on Mount Huangshan in China. (Photo: Asep Noor/Flickr)

Across the world Valentine’s Day is met with equal parts anticipation and bitter dread. Here at Atlas Obscura, no Valentine’s Day would be complete without a side of strange to accompany the romance. The love-focused stories and places on the list below are sure to either get you in the mood–or make you feel a bit uneasy. 


THE LINKED HEADSTONES OF HET OUDE KERKHOF

The gravestones of a Catholic woman and a Protestant man, who were married but could not be buried in the same place due to their religions, hold hands over the divide between their two cemeteries. 


THE FIRST EVIDENCE OF RECOGNIZED SAME-SEX RELATIONSHIPS IS 4,500 YEARS OLD 

Recognized same-sex relationships occurred in the ancient world, too. In Egypt, two men were buried together thousands of years ago in a tomb where bas-reliefs showed them touching and embracing.


I MADE MY FRIENDS TEST THE 19TH CENTURY’S HOTTEST DATING TACTIC: READING ALOUD

Writer Cara Giaimo investigates whether the idiosyncratic Victorian tradition of reading Modern Painters to one’s lover is still effective today. 


SEA ROCKS OF MEOTO IWA

These two small sea rocks in Japan have been “wed” through ancient Shinto tradition, and are connected at all times by a thick rope that tethers the lovers together.


MATRIMONIAL MAPS CHART THE DELIGHTS AND PERILS OF MARRIAGE

Matrimonial maps emerged in the 18th century, and depicted states of emotion, milestones, and stages of intimacy as geographical features.


THE LONG, SWEET LOVE AFFAIR BETWEEN COPS AND DOUGHNUTS

There is no truer love than that of an officer and his doughnut. 


MUSEUM OF BROKEN RELATIONSHIPS 

If your heart is broken this Valentine’s Day, then the best place to let go of your pain is at Croatia’s Museum of Broken Relationships, where people from around the world donate their reminders of heartbreak. Aside from your usual teddy bears and love letters, the museum has on display a bottle of a woman’s tears, an axe, a taser gun, and a prosthetic leg.


19TH-CENTURY GREENLANDIC SEAL FUR G-STRING

If you are stuck for ideas on what to give your loved one, we have the perfect present for you: this centuries-old fur G-string. Sexy and warm.


WHY COUNTRY MUSIC HAS BEEN OBSESSED WITH ADULTERY FOR A CENTURY

Country music and cheating go together like whiskey and water. Indeed, country artists have had cheatin’ on the brain since the genre’s inception. 


CORPSE BRIDES AND GHOST GROOMS: A GUIDE TO MARRYING THE DEAD

If the one you pine for on February 14 is no longer living, fear not: in some societies, posthumous marriage is possible–with a few caveats. 


ST VALENTINE’S DAY MASSACRE WALL

Nothing says romance like the bloody massacre that occurred on Valentine’s Day, 1929, thanks to Al Capone’s feud with his bitter enemy, Bugs Moran. 


HOW CHINA REVAMPED NATIONAL SINGLES’ DAY INTO THE WORLD’S BIGGEST CONSUMER HOLIDAY

China’s National Singles’ Day was created from scratch in the 1990s, but is now the greatest commercial success in history, generating billions in revenue each year. Why shouldn’t single people pamper themselves? 


GIVE YOUR BELOVED A GLISTENING BRAIN FOR VALENTINE’S DAY

If you are in the mood to lavish your lover with decadent candies and sweets this Valentine’s Day, look no further than these hyperrealistic organs made out of marzipan. 


6 LOVE LOCK SITES THAT CAUSED BOTH CONTROVERSY AND CUDDLING

Who needs love when you have an accordion? (Photo: Ben Francis on Flickr

The idea of a “love lock” is that you and your beloved clamp a padlock on a permanent structure (usually a bridge), and throw away the key so that your love can be as eternal as that lock. Unfortunately, not everyone is as sold on your cutesy gesture.


ST VALENTINE’S MANY HEADS, ASSORTED PARTS 

What says romance better than the skull of St. Valentine? Nothing, really. (Photo: Dnalor 01/Wikipedia Commons CC BY-SA 3.0)

For a man who’s been dead for over two centuries, St. Valentine sure gets around. His body parts can be found in reliquaries all over the world, from Rome, to Dublin, to Missouri. 


 SAINT WHO? THERE’S OTHER STUFF TO CELEBRATE TODAY!

If you find Valentine’s Day lacking, there are plenty of other occasions to celebrate on February 14, such as Ferris Wheel Day and Bulgarian Wine Day, to name a few.