Valentine’s traditions from around the world

No matter what language you say “I love you” in, all around the world, in some form or another, we celebrate Valentine’s Day.

Couple making a heart with hands



“Dia dos Namorados” which translates as “Lover’s Day” or “Day of the Enamoured”, is celebrated on Jun. 12., in honour of St. Anthony. Couples still exchange the traditional Valentine’s gifts like flowers and chocolates or go out for dinner, while single ladies write the name of the guys they’re infatuated with on a piece of paper the night before and open them up on Dia dos Namorados to determine who they will marry. The main difference between Brazil’s Valentine’s Day and ours is that the whole nation parties. Streets are decorated with lights; there are street parades, rock concerts, carnivals, folk music, samba dancing and the pubs and clubs are open until dawn. Brazilians even decorate their houses for the event.

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Ladies, if you’re in Japan, it’s tradition for you to give your man handmade chocolates. And what do you get in return? Nothing! Well at least not until Mar. 14, known as White Day, where men who received “honmei choco” (chocolates of love) return the favour with a gift of white marshmallows, jewellery or even white handkerchiefs or lingerie.

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In a similar fashion to the Japanese traditions, Korea celebrates Valentine’s Day with the women giving gifts of chocolate to the men. Koreans also celebrate White Day on Mar.14, but that’s not all: A month later on Apr. 14, they also celebrate Black Day. This is where the jaded singles who didn’t receive a White Day gift or don’t have a Valentine come together at restaurants to poo-poo the Valentine’s traditions, wallow about being single and eat noodles.



A common “Valentinsdag” ritual in Denmark is for the men to send “Gaekkebrev” (funny poems and rhymes) to their crush signed with a dot for each letter of their name. Correctly guessing who your secret crush is means that at Easter time he will give you an Easter egg. If you guess wrong, then you have to buy him one.



Valentine’s Day in Finland is better known as “Ystävänpäivä”. It is a day to appreciate your friendships rather than focusing on crushes and loved ones. Friends swap gifts and cards, but like Australia, it’s still a popular day to get hitched or propose.



In lieu of Valentine’s Day, the Welsh celebrate St. Dwynwen’s Day which falls on Jan. 25. Instead of chocolates and flowers, they give spoons, but not just any spoons — love spoons. The tradition stems from years ago when the spoons were ornately designed and embellished with meaningful symbols.



“Dìa del Amor y la Amistad” is held on Feb. 14 and is known as a day of love and friendship. In some of the smaller towns, guys and girls will meet in a park, where they walk around in opposite directions. If a guy sees a young lady he likes, he will give her a flower. If she’s still holding that flower next time he passes her, it means she wants to go out with him. Men will also serenade women they’re in love with from outside their window.



In Germany, if you receive a little pig in a risque position, you should know it’s a symbol of luck and lust.

More on Valentine’s Day

The Valentine’s first date: Should you or shouldn’t you?
Single girl’s guide to Valentine’s Day
Top romantic dining ideas for Valentine’s Day


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