Chocolate, pink hearts, and candle-lit dinners are all things Americans think of on Valentine’s Day; and with the boom of commercialization for the holiday, it is on everyone’s radar this time of year. Many of us know the basics of the American holiday, but how do other countries celebrate this European-born holiday? Here are 8 different ways Valentine’s Day is celebrated around the world.
The theme of love is taken very seriously on Valentine’s Day in the Philippines. It is such a popular day to get married that they often have huge groups of people all get married together. Thousands of people will fill one place for a public wedding ceremony of great proportions. The ceremonies are free and include all of the necessities for a wedding. Not bad!
Some say that Charles, Duke of Orleans, started the tradition of Valentine’s Day cards by sending his wife love letters while he was imprisoned in London. In one particular poem, he referred to her as “Valentine”, greatly solidifying this claim. The town of St. Valentin in France has taken this holiday to the extreme filling the town with flowers, pinning love notes on the Tree of Vows, and chocolatiers making huge chocolate hearts. They have even coined the term “The Village of Love” which is fitting for St. Valentin of France.
Valentine’s Day in South Africa is celebrated in very similar ways to The United States. Many festivals filled with flowers, couples exchanging cards, and chocolates. However, each year, there is a tradition for women to literately wear their hearts on their sleeves by pinning a piece of paper on their shirts that has the name of their crush on it. This is related to the Roman tradition of Lupercalia and is a good way to get right to the point.
There are a few fun Valentine’s Day traditions in Denmark. First of which is known as Gaekkebrev, which is a card with a rhyming poem or funny joke in it which the sender only signed their name with dots or hearts. The receiver then has to guess who sent it, if they get it right, then they are prized with getting an Easter egg later in the year. Instead of roses, Danish people give each other snowdrops. Which are small, pressed white flowers. If a couple doesn’t want to send a Gaekkebrev, they usually will give their loved one a “lovers card” which is clear and has a picture of the sender giving the receiver a gift.
There are three times to celebrate Valentine’s Day in South Korea. The first is on the traditional day of February 14th when women send their partners chocolates, candies, and flowers. The second is white day on March 14th, which is when the men respond by giving their partners similar gifts, but often give bigger gifts as well. The third is Black Day on April 14th when single people grieve over their loneliness and “celebrate” by eating jajangmyeon, a noodle dish with black bean sauce. Hopefully nobody celebrates all three!
Instead of solely focusing on the romantic part of Valentine’s Day, Finnish people celebrate Ystävänpäivä or “Friends Day”. People give gifts and cards to friends, family members, neighbors, and anyone else they feel close to. The postal service also sends out special letters and stamps for the holiday. This is a very nice and inclusive tradition.
Being one of the largest producers of cocoa, it makes sense that Ghana celebrates national chocolate day on February 14th. Cities around the country have chocolate-themed performances, musical events, and restaurant menus for people to explore. So if you’re a chocolate lover, put Ghana on your list!
February 14th is known as the beginning of spring in Slovenia and the regrowth of plants from the winter. It is believed that birds “propose” to each other on this day as a symbol of a new start. Many people will begin work in the fields and gardens on this day as well. The country has recently adopted the commercialized ways of Valentine’s Day, but traditional beliefs are still followed.
This Valentine’s day, celebrate with your host student by making cards, giving each other candy or other small presents, or trying a new tradition. Whether it’s loading up on chocolate, pinning your crushes name to your shirt, or sending someone a funny card; we hope you enjoy celebrating you own traditional Valentine’s Day or trying out a new idea for the day.