A list of unique Valentine’s Day traditions around the world and love day celebrations you should know about
21 Unique Valentine’s Day Traditions From Around the World
Love is in the air!
February 14th is just around the corner, and that means it’s time to start thinking about how to celebrate Valentine’s Day one of the most celebrated holidays around the world.
This year, why not try something new? There are many unique traditions associated with this special day, from exchanging heart shaped chocolates to love letters from secret admirers, each country has its own way of celebrating this lover’s day.
In this post, we will explore some of the most unique Valentine’s Day traditions from around the world.
How did Valentine’s Day begin?
No one is quite sure what the true origin story of Valentine’s Day is.
It may be a spin-off of the Roman festival of Lupercalia, which was an ancient fertility festival.
Or it may have been named after one of several Christian martyrs who were named Valentine. Other legends state that the holiday was created after a martyred priest wrote a letter to a jailer’s daughter and signed it “From your Valentine”.
Regardless, this festival of love began sometime in the 14th century.
Where do people celebrate Valentine’s Day?
Valentine’s Day is a very popular tradition in the Western world but you can find versions of this love celebration around the globe.
Unique Valentine’s Day Traditions From Around the World
Although giving cards, heart shaped-chocolates, and flowers or having a romantic dinner happen in most Valentine’s Day celebrations, there are many other unique Valentines day traditions around the world.
From giving intricate wooden spoons to mass wedding ceremonies, it turns out Valentine’s Day is more than just chocolate hearts.
1. Unique Valentine’s Day Traditions in Britain
For the British, the most valuable Valentine’s Day gifts are the ones truly made with love, or by hand.
People often gift pastries, sweets, or heart-shaped cakes. In Britain, it is also a day to celebrate all those you love-even pets!
Flowers have been an important Valentine’s day staple since back in the XVII century. However, if you are going to gift roses, be sure to pick the right color.
Red roses are for a girlfriend or a boyfriend while yellow and white roses are for friends and family.
In Norfolk, thanks to the legend of Jack Valentine, children anxiously wait for gifts on their porch.
In Sussex, February 14th is also believed to be the day that birds choose their mate. No one is sure exactly where this idea originated but it appears in a poem by Geoffrey Chaucer and again in a work by Shakespeare.
According to the tradition, the birds also predicted an unmarried woman’s future spouse. If an unmarried girl saw a dove on Valentine’s Day, then her future husband would be a man with a kind mind. If she saw a goldfinch, then she would marry a rich man. However, if she saw a woodpecker, it meant she wouldn’t get married at all!
2. Unique Valentine’s Day Traditions in the United States
In the United States, Valentine’s Day is about much more than just romantic love. It is a very popular celebration in schools. Elementary school students bring in cards for their classmates and often have a class party.
In the United States, this holiday is also a time to show family and friends how much you care for them. In some families, parents give small gifts to their children or have a special family meal.
Couples celebrate Valentine’s Day by enjoying a romantic dinner, giving gifts, chocolates or flowers to show their affection.
Recently Galentine’s Day has also become more popular, not just in the United States, but around the world. Galentine’s Day originated from the TV program Parks and Recreation in 2010. It is a celebration of friendship among women.
3. Unique Valentine’s Day Traditions in Australia
Valentine’s Day traditions in Australia look similar to that of other countries around the world. There are lots of chocolates, gift-giving, and romance. Dinners and romantic activities for couples etc.
However, they add in week-long music festivals in Adelaide, Perth, and Sydney as well which are a lot of fun.
4. Unique Valentine’s Day Traditions in France
With a village named Valentine and Paris, the city of love, you can bet the French go all out for Valentine’s Day.
In France, this holiday is all about romantic love. Couples enjoy romantic dinners, share small gifts and lovers exchange kisses to celebrate together.
The French village of Saint-Valentin fills with tourists this time of year. Some come to renew their wedding vows or just to enjoy the celebration of the village’s patron saint, St Valentine.
The whole village gets romantic with entire yards, trees, and homes decorated with cards, rose petals, and romance galore.
5. Unique Valentine’s Day Traditions in Mexico
In Mexico, February 14th is called “El Dia del Amor y la Amistad” or the Day of Love and Friendship. They celebrate similarly to other countries but with a Mexican twist.
If enjoying a romantic dinner in Mexico, don’t be surprised when a Mariachi band shows up to serenade you during your special meal.
6. Unique Valentine’s Day Traditions in the Philippines
The Philippines has a very fitting, unique tradition- mass marriage! Marriage is an important rite of passage in the Philippines but unfortunately, not everyone can afford a wedding.
On February 14th different provinces sponsor mass wedding ceremonies, with flowers, cake, and all the wedding fun.
7. Unique Valentine’s Day Traditions in Ghana
Since Ghana is the second-largest cocoa exporter in the world, in 2005 they decided to take advantage of their delicious natural resource and declare February 14th “National Chocolate Day”.
The intent is to encourage people to buy and gift domestic chocolates to their Valentines. They also host chocolate day celebrations to honor the cocoa farmers.
8. Unique Valentine’s Day Traditions in Bulgaria
Bulgaria also thought that celebrating two holidays on February 14th would be better than just one. So instead of just celebrating love, they also honor Saint Trifon, the patron saint of vineyards.
Bulgaria has celebrated Trifon Zarezan Day for centuries. Traditionally, it was the day that work began in the vineyards.
Each year, toward mid-February, workers would begin pruning the vines and then have a priest come to bless them for a fruitful year. After the ceremony, laborers would feast on cheese, meats, and lots of wine.
For years Bulgarians battled over which saint to dedicate February 14th to, Saint Valentine or Saint Trifon?
In the end, they decided to combine the two. After all, wine and love pair together quite nicely.
9. Unique Valentine’s Day Traditions in Denmark
Although Denmark didn’t begin celebrating Valentine’s Day traditions until the 1990s, they have done a wonderful job of developing several unique traditions in such a short time.
Instead of just any old Valentine’s Day card, they give a “lovers card” which shows the image of a lover giving a gift that you have to hold up to the light to see.
They also give Snowdrops, which traditionally were special pressed white flowers to symbolize the coming Spring. Now, Snowdrops are often given in bouquets as well.
The last unique tradition spans from Valentine’s Day to Easter. Lovers and secret admirers write a romantic or funny poem called a gaekkabrev.
This love note is signed with dots and the recipient has to guess who it is from. If he or she guesses correctly, the recipient will also get an Easter egg that same year.
10. Unique Valentine’s Day Traditions in Finland and Estonia
In Finland and Estonia, Valentine’s Day is Friendship Day (Ystävän Päivä in Finnish and Sõbrapäev in Estonian). Families, friends, and couples come together to share meals and enjoy activities like skating or sledding.
The holiday tradition began in Finland in the 1980s and made its way to Estonia by the 1990s. In both countries, streets are decorated with love-related decorations.
In Finland, students wear red if they are in a relationship and green if they are single. In Estonia, single people looking for love can catch a ride on “love buses“.
11. South Korea’s Love Celebrations
South Korea appreciates love so much that they celebrate it on the 14th of every month! Each love day has a different theme.
On February 14th, also called Black Day, women generally give chocolates to men as a sign of affection.
On March 14th, White Day, the men are supposed to give gifts in return.
The rest of the love days are a little more unconventional, like Hug Day in December or Kiss Day in June.
12. Unique Valentine’s Day Traditions in Japan
Japan follows South Korea’s lead in celebrating both Valentine’s Day and White Day on March 14th.
On Valentine’s Day, girls give chocolates to family, friends, and romantic interests. However, not all chocolates are created equal.
First, there are the “giri-choco” or no obligation chocolates given to family and friends, just to show you care.
“Honmei-chocos” are for romantic interests or partners. These are either fancy chocolates or, if you want them to be really special, homemade.
On White Day, the men give gifts in return, but this time anything goes. They don’t have to stick to chocolates.
13. Unique Valentine’s Day Traditions in Brazil
In Brazil, Valentine’s Day is called “Dia dos Namorados” or Lover’s Day. Lovers exchange chocolates, cards, and flowers but it is also a day to give gifts of affection to family members and hold family dinners.
Brazil makes the festival their own by hosting music festivals and dance performances.
14. Unique Valentine’s Day Traditions in Italy
Originally, Italians celebrated Valentine’s day as their spring festival. They would spend the day outdoors enjoying nature but they also enjoy several unique Italian Valentine’s Day traditions.
For singles, it was believed that the first person you saw on Valentine’s Day was the person you would marry, or someone who looked similar. So, girls would wake up early and look out the window, hoping for the man of their dreams.
A unique Italian Valentine’s Day tradition for couples is making a “Luccheti d’Amore”.
Couples write the name of their love on a padlock and hang it to a bridge or railing and then throw away the key. The most famous spot is Ponte Milvio in Rome, where the tradition began.
15. Unique Valentine’s Day Traditions in South Africa
On February 14 some young women in South Africa boldly declare their love by pinning the name of their sweethearts on their sleeves.
The tradition likely comes from the ancient Lupercalia festival.
16. Unique Valentine’s Day Traditions in Guatemala
February 14th in Guatemala is called El Día del Cariño or The Day of Affection. Instead of focusing on romance, they celebrate love for family and friends.
In Guatemala City, they host a colorful “Old Love Parade”, honoring the country’s senior citizens. People also dress up in feathered masks and traditional Mayan attire for the parade.
17. Unique Valentines Day Traditions in Wales
In Wales, it was customary to give each other hand-carved wooden spoons, or love spoons, for Valentine’s Day. Each carving has a unique meaning. Love spoons are still popular gifts for special life events today.
Love Celebrations Throughout the Year
Not all love celebrations happen on February 14th. These countries chose to make their celebrations extra unique by honoring love and friendship at other times throughout the year.
18. Argentina’s Love Celebration
In Argentina, they celebrate a whole week of sweetness or “La Semana de Dulzura” in July.
Not only do they celebrate the sweetness of love but also all the delicious sweet treats.
This holiday began in 1989 when a candy company launched a new campaign trading candies for a kiss. It worked so well that it became a yearly event!
19. Slovenia’s Love Celebration
Slovenia’s love celebration is on March 12th, Saint Gregory’s Day. However, February 14 still holds a special meaning in Slovenia. It marks the first day of working in the fields and the day of the bird wedding.
If you want to see the ceremony of the birds, you have to walk barefoot through frozen fields and bushes first. Ouch!
Traditionally, on St Gregory’s Day, they would hang baked goods in the bushes for children to find while young women looked up at the sky.
The first bird the girls saw would predict their future husbands.
Today, the only tradition that still stands is floating lights, miniature houses, and boats down the river to symbolize Saint Gregory tossing the light into the water.
20. China’s Love Celebration
Did you know the Chinese lantern festival is also a celebration of love?
Although China has its own version of Valentine’s Day, Qixi, for many Chinese, the Lantern Festival is the real Chinese Valentine’s Day.
In ancient China, women had to stay indoors for most of their lives. However, they were allowed to go out during the lantern festival. So, it was one of the few times young men and women could meet and fall in love.
Qixi falls on the seventh day of the seventh lunar month. It is currently celebrated similarly to Valentine’s Day by exchanging gifts and chocolates. However, the traditional customs ranged from showing off skills to worshipping a fairy weaver.
21. Spain’s Love Celebration
On April 23rd, in Catalonia, they celebrate Valentine’s Day and World Book Day all wrapped into one. It is the festival of Saint Jordi– where women receive a rose while the men receive a book.
Valentine’s Day Traditions around the world where you live
As you can see, there are many unique Valentine’s Day traditions around the world.
If you’re looking to explore a new holiday tradition this year, I encourage you to try out a unique new way of celebrating love. Choose something that is meaningful to both parties and make Valentine’s day about what matters most–the people you love!
What are some unique Valentine’s Day celebrations or traditions where you live?