Every year, we celebrate Valentine’s Day as a way of showing love and affection toward the amazing people in our lives. But did you know that countries around the world have different Valentine’s Day customs?
Here are some interesting international Valentine’s Day traditions from around the world:
In Germany, Valentine’s Day is known as “Valentinstag.” It’s celebrated similarly to how we celebrate here in the United States, with a focus on romantic love and relationships. Most commonly, people exchange gifts like flowers, chocolates, and small tokens of affection. Recently, there’s been a trend towards personalized, handmade and creative gifts! A unique tradition in Germany during Valentine’s Day is exchanging heart-shaped gingerbread cookies, known as “Lebkuchenherzen,” which are typically decorated with romantic messages or names!
In Brazil, Valentine’s Day is known as “Dia dos Namorados,” which translates to “Lovers’ Day” — but don’t expect to celebrate it on February 14th, as it is actually held on June 12th! Dia dos Namorados is a popular holiday and is traditionally celebrated by couples with a focus on romantic love. The most common way to celebrate is to give gifts like chocolates, flowers, and small tokens of affection called “presentinhos.” There are also regional festivals and parades, like “Festa Junina,” where there’s dancing, music, and other cultural activities.
In Colombia, Valentine’s Day is known as “El Día del amor y la amistad” or “Love and Friendship Day.” It’s a popular holiday celebrated not only by couples but also by friends and family. Unlike in the U.S. where Valentine’s Day is celebrated in February, the people of Colombia celebrate their holiday on the third Saturday of September, and the festivities often last the entire weekend! Most commonly, people will exchange small gifts like flowers or chocolates, but they also may attend parties or events — such as the “Feria de las Flores” in Medellín, which includes a parade of flowers and other cultural activities.
In Italy, Valentine’s Day celebrations are similar to what we’re used to in the United States, with a focus on romantic love and relationships, but there are also some unique traditions and celebrations. For example, in Verona (the city of Romeo and Juliet) there is an annual event called “Verona in Love,” which includes special concerts, shows, and events for couples. Another tradition in Italy is to celebrate Valentine’s Day with a romantic meal, often featuring special dishes like heart-shaped pasta or desserts.
In Turkey, many people celebrate Valentine’s Day similarly to how we do in the United States — exchanging flowers, chocolates, and other small sentiments. But another tradition is to attach love locks to bridges or other public spaces as a symbol of their love!
In Japan, Valentine’s Day is traditionally celebrated as a day for women to express their love and appreciation to their romantic partners or friends by giving them chocolates. Two types of chocolates are typically gifted: “Giri-choco,” which is for friends, colleagues or acquaintances, and “Honmei-choco,” which is meant as a romantic gesture. The receiver is expected to reciprocate their feelings one month later, on March 14th, which is known as “White Day.” On this day, that individual will typically give a gift to their romantic partner, often in the form of white chocolate, flowers, or other small presents. Overall, Valentine’s Day and White Day are viewed as important days of recognition for couples and a way to express their feelings to each other in Japan.
7. South Africa
In South Africa, Valentine’s Day is a popular holiday celebrated by couples, friends, and family members. People often give gifts like chocolate, teddy bears, and flowers. In recent years, there has been a trend towards personalized gifts, too! One unique custom in South Africa is for women to wear brightly colored dresses on Valentine’s Day.
Valentine’s Day, known as “La Saint-Valentin” in France, is a celebration of love between couples. On top of the traditional exchange of small gifts or flowers, couples in some regions may also exchange “mignardises,” which are small treats like chocolates or macarons. Paris, the city of love, is particularly popular for romantic getaways on Valentine’s Day! Couples can enjoy a romantic walk along the Seine River, dine in quaint restaurants, and take in the city’s most romantic landmarks, like the Eiffel Tower and the Pont des Arts bridge.
In Poland, Valentine’s Day is not traditionally celebrated as much as in other countries. However, it has become increasingly popular in recent years as a way to express love and appreciation for romantic partners! Poland does have its own celebration of love, called “Andrzejki” or St. Andrew’s Day, which takes place on November 30th and has more cultural significance.
Valentine’s Day is uniquely celebrated in Thailand as “Wan Rak” day, which means “Love Day” in Thai. On this day, couples give each other gifts, like flowers and chocolates, and also release birds or fish as a symbol of love and merit-making. Additionally, many Thai couples choose to get married or make marriage proposals on this day!
Around the world, people from other countries and cultures have their own unique Valentine’s Day traditions.
Though our traditions may be different, the sentiment remains the same — celebrating love and admiration!
Learn about international customs and traditions firsthand by hosting an au pair!