Valentine’s Day Traditions Around the World

Valentine’s Day Traditions Around the World

February is the month for love and romance as Valentine’s Day is celebrated on 14th February. It’s the day when couples express their love for each other by sending cards, flowers or chocolates, amongst many other things with messages of love. There are many stories of how this day get the name, and the most popular belief is about St Valentine who was a priest from Rome in the third century AD.

It is celebrated differently around the world, though this annual festival celebrates love, romance, courtship, and admiration. Every year on 14 February people celebrate this day by sending messages of love and affection to partners, family, and friends. Different countries follow their own unique customs to profess love.

United States

Flower and chocolate gift

Valentine’s Day remains popular — and good for business. Worldwide, about 1 billion Valentine cards (or “valentines”) are sent annually. Hallmark, a U.S. greeting-card company, estimates that Americans alone send some 114 million valentines a year. Elementary School Children in the United States exchange friendship-themed valentines with their classmates. Kids’ valentines, whether homemade or store-bought, usually feature heart-shaped motifs or cartoon characters. Each kid will make a special box, and every student in the class will put a small Valentine’s card in the box of every other kid in the class. Adults also exchange Valentine’s Day gifts and cards with family and friends. You give cards, gifts, and Chocolates to your parents, friends, classmates, colleagues, significant other.

United Kingdom

The tradition of the celebration of Valentine’s Day in the United Kingdom dates back to the Victorian era. The United Kingdom has the tradition of giving roses on Valentine’s Day. The flower is traditionally seen as the favorite of Venus, the Roman goddess of love.

Britishers dont buy expensive gifts but they buy chocolate sweets, various sweets, valentine’s cards, and soft toys, among which Teddy bears are the most popular. Flowers are a must-have gift for Valentine’s Day, a symbol of sympathy, tenderness, and love. The color of roses and their number in the bouquet have different meanings — scarlet roses are given to a girlfriend or a boyfriend; yellow and white — to acquaintances and relatives.

Japan

Valentine’s Day in Japan is celebrated with its own customs and tradition. The festivities are not exactly the same as it is in much of the world that celebrates it. It’s the women who bear the pressure of giving gifts on Valentine’s Day and instead of giving gifts usually chocolates and candy are given as opposed to flowers, jewelry, or other gifts.

The favor is then returned exactly one month later on March 14th on a day known as White Day, when men are encouraged to give gifts back to the women who treated them on Valentine’s Day. White Day is also marked in other Asian countries including Thailand, South Korea, Taiwan, Singapore, and Myanmar.

South Korea

Valentine’s Day in Korea is a bit different from Valentine’s Day elsewhere in the world. Rather than celebrate a single day of romantic gestures, South Korea extends the holiday over several days and celebrates specific roles for each gender. In South Korea, February 14 is when women court men with candy and flowers. (A month later, on March 14 — known as White Day — it’s the reverse, with men giving gifts to women.)

Romania

Romanians celebrate love twice in February: an international Valentine’s Day (February 14) and on Dragobete – the traditional Romanian lovers’ day (February 24). The day of February 24 was considered to mark the beginning of the farming season or the day when the bears woke up from hibernation. The name Dragobete originates from the name of the local deity, who is closest in significance to Eros or Cupid. Dragobete was depicted as a very handsome and amorous man, who was also rather abrupt in his behavior. He was also the one who overlooked the coupling of all animals at the beginning of spring.

Italy

Padlocks

Valentine’s Day is synonymous with love and Italians traditionally have been considered to be lovers. Known in Italy as “La Festa Degli Innamorati,” Valentine’s Day is celebrated only between lovers and sweethearts. Young sweethearts in Italy profess their love for each other all year round with a more recent tradition, attaching padlocks or “lucchetti” to bridges and railings and throwing away the key.

St. Valentine’s Day actually originated in Italy, during the days of the Roman Empire. Some people say that the date, 14 February, was the day when Juno, the queen of Roman gods and goddesses, and of women and marriage, was celebrated.

South Africa

Most couples in South Africa celebrate the day with romantic dinners, chocolates, and gifts. However, some people follow the ancient Roman festival of Lupercalia, from which some historians draw links with the origin of Valentine’s Day. The festival, which celebrated the coming of spring, includes fertility rites and the pairing off of women with men by lottery. In South Africa, it’s Valentine’s Day tradition for women to pin the names of their love interests on their shirtsleeves.

France

Valentine’s Day in France falls on the 14th of February, just like the rest of the world. It is known as la fête de Saint-Valentin or just la Saint-Valentin. La Saint-Valentin is a romantic day, a day to express your love, but here’s where one of the most striking differences occurs; it is really only for adults. Unlike English cultures, Valentine’s day in France is only for people “in” love, not just loving/friendship gestures. Children do not make Valentine’s crafts and give gifts or cards to their parents, friends, or teachers. Parents do not give cards or gifts to their kids. So don’t go about sending all your French friends a friendly Valentine’s day card, they may get the wrong impression!

China

Valentine gift

In China, there are two festivals that have had a similar function to Western Valentine’s Day, Lantern Festival and Double Seven Festival. The 14th of February, like in the West, now marks one of China’s many Valentine’s Days. Chinese people have adopted the traditions of Westerners on celebrating Valentine’s Day, such as exchanging gifts (like flowers, chocolates, ties, and watches), making a special date to or have a romantic dinner or watch a movie in the evening, or even to make a marriage registration if Valentine’s Day falls on a workday.

Chinese people have also made some changes to the Western way of celebrating Valentine’s Day. For some senior couples, the husband might prepare a rich dinner, or buy an elegant dress elaborately for his wife on this day, to show his appreciation

Wales

The Welsh don’t have to wait until February 14 to let their lovers know how they feel. The country celebrates its day of love on January 25, which is called Saint Dwynwen’s Day, the Welsh patron saint of lovers. This makes her the Welsh equivalent of St Valentine.

On this day, men traditionally gift women with hand-carved wooden spoons. The tradition is based on the notion that Welsh sailors carved designs into wooden spoons while at sea to bring back to their lovers back home. Since the 16th century, Welsh men carved intricate wooden spoons as a token of affection for women they loved.

Philippines

Mass wedding

Apart from the usual tradition of flowers and chocolates on Valentine’s Day, most couples in the Philippines officiate their marriages on February 14th. In the Philippines, mass wedding ceremonies are commonly performed on Valentine’s Day. Mass wedding ceremonies have gained popularity in the Philippines in recent years, leading to hundreds of couples gathering at malls and other public areas around the country to say I do or renew their vows.

Estonia and Finland

The two countries celebrate February 14 by honoring both friendship and romantic love. Estonia celebrates friendship day known as Sõbrapäev. Gifts and cards are given to anyone considered a friend, including neighbors. This is an inclusive day, not just for couples, so family members and friends exchange gifts and celebrate love.

Estonia also has a tradition for single people to ride on the Love Bus in hopes of meeting someone special.

Denmark

Happy Valentine's Day

People celebrate Valentine’s Day in Denmark in a very traditional way. Cards, flowers, and love notes are the three main components of the celebration. There are however some ways that are uniquely Danish in practice. Denmark has its lover’s card. This card traditionally was transparent and showed an image of a lover presenting a gift to his beloved. This image can be seen when the card is placed in front of a light.

The giving of white flowers called “snowdrops“is another Valentine’s Day tradition observed in the country. This tradition is observed with utmost care and love. The white flowers are not only given to lovers but to friends as well. Still another popular tradition of love in Denmark is the writing of gaekkebrev. This can be a romantic poem or a love note.

Spain

Although not a traditional Spanish holiday, St. Valentine’s Day in Spain is celebrated, like in most countries, with all kinds of sweet heart-shaped gifts, bouquets of flowers, cards, and romantic dinners at fancy restaurants. What’s really interesting about St. Valentine’s Day in Spain is that certain regions have their own versions of the holiday, usually celebrated with great fanfare and peculiar traditions.

El Dia de San Valentin was first introduced in Spain in 1948 by José ‘Pepín’ Fernández, the founder of Galerías Preciados, who, as any clever businessman, saw this occasion as a great opportunity to boost sales in his (then) newly opened department store.

Czech Republic

Czechs have traditionally celebrated their lovers on May 1st, commonly known as International Labor Day, but also the “Day of Love” in the Czech Republic. Keeping with Czech superstitions, on the 1st of May, it is believed couples should find a blossoming cherry tree to share a kiss under to ensure happiness and health.

Brazil

Brazil Valentine’s Day is called Dia dos Namorados (translated as “Lovers’ Day”, “Day of the Enamored”, or “Boyfriends’ / Girlfriends’ Day”). Although it is celebrated in a similar way to the American and European tradition, we don’t celebrate it because of Saint Valentine. The Dia dos Namorados is celebrated on June 12 because of its proximity to Saint Anthony’s Day on June 13. This Saint is very known in Brazil as they believe he blessed young couples with a prosperous marriage.

Ghana

Also known as Saint Valentine’s Day or the Feast of Saint Valentine, the day is celebrated annually on February 14 although it is not observed as a public holiday in any country. In Ghana, the day is also known as National Chocolate Day, purposely for the eating of chocolate made in Ghana and parts of its effort to promote goods made in Ghana.

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Simmi Kamboj

Simmi Kamboj is the Founder and Administrator of Ritiriwaz, your one-stop guide to Indian Culture and Tradition. She had a passion for writing about India's lifestyle, culture, tradition, travel, and is trying to cover all Indian Cultural aspects of Daily Life.