Love Around the World
How Different Countries Celebrate Valentine's Day
Check that calendar! Valentine’s Day is coming up and it’s not a date you want to forget. In America, we make fancy dinner reservations, give chocolates and flowers, and spend time with the ones we love the most. But how do they celebrate this day of love in other areas of the world? We’re looking at a few traditions that you may want to add to your annual Valentine’s Day.
When you think of romance, France is probably one of the first places that comes to mind. It is the epicenter of all things romantic, especially in the village of Saint-Valentin. This village completely transforms during the week of Valentine’s Day. In France, a common tradition is exchanging letters and cards with loved ones. But in Saint-Valentin, they take it to the next level. The have a festival celebrating love. Also, all the townspeople are involved. They decorate the yards, trees, and houses with love cards, roses, and marriage proposals. This all supposedly branches from when the Duke of Orleans wrote the first Valentine’s card when he signed a poem, “Your Valentine.” This country really takes the celebration of love to the next level, and it is commonly known as one of the most beautiful Valentine’s Day celebrations in the world.
South Korea takes their celebrations of romance to the next level by having a romantic celebration on the 14th of every month! Each month has a different theme, which helps grow romantic connections. For example, Koreans celebrate Diary Day in January, which is when you exchange a blank diary with a loved one. Then comes Valentine’s Day, which is when the women buy gifts like chocolates or roses for the men. The men don’t get off quite so easily. They give their gifts, like jewelry or chocolates, a month later on White Day.
Singles who did not get a gift on either day get together on Black Day in April to eat black noodles with their single friends. After that the celebrations include Yellow Day, Kiss Day, Silver Day, Green Day, Photo Day, Wine Day, Movie Day, and Hug Day. It is safe to say that love gets its deserved amount of celebration in South Korea throughout the year.
In Mexico, Valentine’s Day isn’t limited to couples. They celebrate friendship and anyone else who is important in their lives. People celebrate with handwritten letters to friends, parties, Kermes (similar to a carnival), the exchanging of stuffed animals and candy, and more. Older kids will play a game called, “el amigo secreto,” which is similar to “Secret Santa” but for Valentine’s Day. One of the most romantic and traditional ways to show your love in Mexico for Valentine’s Day is with a serenata. This involves getting a mariachi band to sing to your romantic partner. That’s one tradition that would definitely surprise your loved one!
Wales celebrates love on January 25 on the Day of St. Dwynwen, the Welsh patron saint of lovers. Just listen to this saint’s incredible backstory. As a princess in fourth century Wales, she was betrothed to a prince and couldn’t marry her true love. She fled to the woods and an angel gave her a potion to forget her true love, but it turned him to ice. God granted her three wishes. She wished for her true love to be thawed, God to help all true lovers, and to never marry. Nowadays, lovers exchange unique, handcrafted wooden spoons. Historically, suitors gave these types of spoons to women to express their intent for love. People also exchange cards and different gifts that are more commonly known to us as “Valentine’s gifts,” but the exchanging of spoons is a centuries-long tradition.
Here, February 14 is celebrated as National Chocolate Day. They’re speaking our love language! The Ghana government took the step to state this day as National Chocolate Day to increase tourism in the country in 2007, since Ghana is one of the largest cocoa-producing countries in the world. On this day, you can attend performances, music events, and restaurants and stores will have special themed offerings.
Instead of celebrating in February like we do, Argentinians celebrate “the week of sweetness” in July. They give sweets to not only lovers, but family and friends too. A candy company in 1898 started this fun week with a popular “Candy for a Kiss” campaign. People would give candy and in turn would get a kiss on the cheek. It’s now an annual tradition. Popular treats include a Bon o Bon, a chocolate bonbon filled with peanut butter.
Valentine’s Day is actually celebrated on February 24 in Romania on the holiday of Dragobete. He is the patron saint of love and cheerfulness who is often associated with Cupid. But he used his powers to remind people to never stop celebrating love. Couples celebrate the holiday by wandering into the forests to find spring flowers. The tradition is also inclusive for those who are single. According to legend, if you meet and hug at least one person that you’re attracted to, you’ll see a big difference in your love life.
On February 14th, Bulgarians celebrate with their own style. They celebrate San Trifon, the patron saint of vineyards, on February 14. This was traditionally the year’s first day or working on vineyards, symbolizing the end of winter (yes, please!). In each town, the man who grew the most grapes that year is crowned king and driven around and ordered to get drunk with his friends so that there is a good harvest. On this day, couples of all ages celebrate their love for each other over local wines.
Overall, though many of the celebrations do share elements with what we do in the United States, there are many countries that put their own spin and incorporate their own histories into the occasion. Find the perfect celebration for you and your partner to make it a magical Valentine’s Day!