Valentine's Day Love Worldwide
Here in North America, we're used to the regular customs of giving chocolates, flowers, and cards on Valentine's Day. But that's not the case for other countries around the world! As we all know, there are many ways to show love, and that's showcased by all the unique traditions these different countries all have. Whether it's a peculiar practice, a different day to celebrate love, or a completely different interpretation of Valentine's Day, here are 20 unique and unusual Valentine's Day traditions that take place across the globe.
1. Wales: Love Spoons
In Wales, they have a unique tradition where instead of exchanging cards on Valentine's Day, they give hand-carved spoons known as "love spoons". It's an old tradition that dates back to the the 17th century, but it's such a beautiful and thoughtful gift to give to someone you admire. Intricately decorated with symbols of live, they make perfect display pieces in any home.
2. Japan: Only Women Give Chocolates
In Japan, chocolate-giving is done a little differently; it's women who are the main gift-givers on Valentine's Day, and it's not just to lovers. There are two types of chocolates given: "Giri-choco" (obligation chocolate) given to friends, colleagues, and bosses, and "Honmei-choco" (true love chocolate) which is given to boyfriends and husbands. But don't worry, girls get chocolates too - men return the favour on White Day, March 14th.
3. South Korea: A Black Day for Singles
In South Korea, they have a strange tradition where if you don't receive any chocolates on Valentine's Day or White Day, you then celebrate "Black Day" on April 14th, a day where singles gather to eat Jajangmyeon. These black bean noodles are meant to represent the day (they're black in colour) as they commiserate their single status.
4. Denmark: Snowdrops and Joke Letters
Danish people celebrate Valentine's Day with a quirky twist. Men send women joke letters or "gaekkebrev" containing a funny poem or rhyme written on intricately cut paper. Don't expect love letters here! They sign the letter with dots instead of their name and if the woman guesses the sender correctly, she earns an Easter egg later that year.
5. Philippines: Mass Wedding Ceremonies
In the Philippines, Valentine's Day is a popular day for mass wedding ceremonies. It's meant to be a day for love, but they really take it up a notch! Hundreds of couples will gather everywhere from malls, parks, and other public places to get married or renew theirs vows en masse. It's certainly a grand communal celebration of love!
6. Ghana: National Chocolate Day
Did you know Ghana is one of the world's largest cocoa producers? Well, on February 14th, it's not just Valentine's Day, it's also National Chocolate Day! This beloved day is all about boosting tourism and the consumption of Ghanaian chocolate; it's a fun day of chocolate-themed menus, exhibitions, and talks.
7. France: Valentine's Day Lotteries
Back in the older days, France had a rather peculiar Valentine's Day custom called "loterie d'amour" which translates to "drawing for love". This practice would involve having singles entering houses facing each other and shouting across the windows until they found a pair. If you were unlucky and remained unmatched, the women would later gather for a bonfire. Weird, right?
8. Italy: Baci Perugina
In Italy, Valentine's Day is celebrated with a very specific sweet treat. Gifts of "Baci Perugina", chocolates filled with hazelnuts and wrapped with a romantic quote in four languages, are given as a traditional sweet gesture of love.
9. Slovenia: A Walk in the Fields
In Slovenia, Valentine's Day is more than a day of love, it's about celebrating agriculture and spring. One such belief is that this is the day when birds propose and marry one another, with Slovenians walking barefoot through frozen fields in an attempt to witness this symbolic event.
10. Estonia: Friend's Day
In Estonia, Valentine's Day is known as "Sõbrapäev," which translates to "Friend's Day." It's a day to celebrate friendship rather than romantic love. People exchange gifts and cards with friends, making it a day of appreciation for all loved ones, not just romantic partners.
11. China: The Matchmaker's Holiday
Instead of Valentine's Day, China has its own equivalent day of love called the Qixi Festival. Celebrated on the seventh day of the seventh lunar month, it's a day to commemorate the romantic legend of two lovers, a weaver and a cowherd, who were allowed to meet just once a year. On this day, young women participate in rituals for good fortune and love, such as offering fruits to Zhinü (the weaver girl) to find a good husband.
12. Brazil: Lovers' Day in June
Instead of February 14th, Brazilians celebrate "Dia dos Namorados" (Lovers' Day) on June 12th, with music, festivals, and performances. It's a day of exchanging gifts, chocolates, flowers, and cards with lovers and friends. The next day honors Saint Anthony, known for blessing young couples with prosperous marriages.
13. Scotland: Love Festivals
In Scotland, Valentine's Day is celebrated with plenty of festivals, with one old tradition where single men and women would write their names on pieces of paper and throw them into a hat. They would then one by one draw up a name, and it was believed that if one name was called out three times, it meant a marriage would soon happen.
14. Romania: Dragobete, the Day of Love
Celebrated instead on February 24th, Romanians celebrate Dragobete which is their traditional day of love. It's often associated with spring and the mating of animals, with couples celebrating by picking flowers together and singing songs. It's more than just a romantic day, it was about welcoming spring!
15. Finland: Ystävänpäivä, Friend's Day
Like Estonia, Finland celebrates Valentine's Day as "Ystävänpäivä," focusing on honoring friendships. February 14th is more about remembering all your loved ones, not just romantic partners, with cards and small gifts.
16. Bulgaria: Day of Winemakers
In Bulgaria, Valentine's Day coincides with another great holiday, the Day of St. Trifon Zarezan, the patron saint of vineyards and winemakers. This is a beautiful day to celebrate love and wine together, with many participating in vineyard rituals and enjoying local wines, celebrating this day that historically marked the beginning of grape pruning.
17. Wales: Dydd Santes Dwynwen
In addition to the beautiful gifting of love spoons on Valentine's Day, Wales has its own unique day of love, Dydd Santes Dwynwen. Celebrated on January 25th, it's a day to honour the Welsh patron saint of lovers, with people exchanging cards and gifts, following practices similar to Valentine's Day.
18. South Africa: Wearing Hearts on Sleeves
In South Africa, it's common for people to wear their hearts on their sleeves on Valentine's Day—quite literally. Individuals pin the names of their love interest on their shirtsleeves, an ancient Roman tradition known as Lupercalia, which South Africans do to declare their affection and hopefully have it reciprocated.
19. Guatemala: Day of Love and Friendship
In Guatemala, February 14th is celebrated as "El Día del Cariño," a day for expressing love and affection not just to romantic partners but also to friends and family. Streets are filled with festivities, including parades, and people exchange gifts and tokens of appreciation.
20. Spain: Saint Dionysius Day in Valencia
In the Valencia region of Spain, they celebrate Saint Dionysius Day on October 9th which can be considered a version of Valentine's Day. It's custom that men gift their partners "macadora", a marzipan figure, as a token of love.