Updated: Apr 8
Ah! Valentine's Day, it's almost impossible to find someone in the world that doesn't have some strong memory (or memories) of this special date, whether it was convincing their first love to go on a date with them or enjoying some nice chocolate and gifts. This special holiday carries great importance in many cultures around the world and each country has developed their very own way of celebrating it.
While some of them keep to the most "cliched" traditions such as giving flowers, chocolates, and going on an expensive dinner date others completely change the format by moving the occasion to another date or celebrating more than just romantic love.
Here are 10 St. Valentine's traditions I've learned of over the years, enjoy!
Brazil - Let's guess who do you Like!
Brazil is one of said countries that changes the format completely, St. Valentine's Day is not celebrated February 14th but June 12th, St. Anthony of Padua's day according to the Catholic calendar.
One extremely fun tradition I remember from this wonderful country is that single ladies will gather with their friends, write the name of the person they fancy on a piece of paper and put it on a bowl. Next each one will take one of the pieces of paper and try to guess to whom does it belong. This is an amazing way for them to share their love secrets whilst also enjoying a fun game!
Czech Republic (Czechia) - Homage to a Romantic Poet
Celebrated on May 1st, St. Valentine's day carries a special literary importance in Prague since couples from around the city visit the statue of Karel Hynek Mácha, an important Czech romantic poet from the XIX century.
This statue is located on Petřín Hill in the Malá Strana district next to the Vltava river, a place greatly known as Prague's favorite recreational area since the hills is full of parks, a funicular and various other monuments. Believe me is one hell of a romantic spot to take your partner to!
Norway - Writing Poems, Winning eggs
Celebrating St. Valentine's Day on February 14th, Norwegians have a fun and interesting way to declare their love. Men will write anonymously a poem for the person they fancy with small and fun rhymes using the letters of their name. Based on that if the person guesses who wrote the poem they win an Easter egg.
Other Scandinavian countries share this tradition (Denmark comes to mind) so if you're planning on taking your partner to the North well, you better start dusting off those poetic skills!
Poland - The Real capital of Love
People tend to call Paris "the city of love" but I'll argue that the actual city that deserves that title is not in France but in Poland.
St. Valentine's Day or Walentynki (as is known there) is in a whole other level in this country, couples will travel to Chelmno, the Polish city of lovers located in northern Poland near the Vistula River, to ask St. Valentine for a love-full land prosperous relationship, well not to St Valentine but his skull. The Paarish Church of the Assumption posses a relic of St. Valentine believed to be a bit of bone from his skull. During the celebrations of the Feast of Saint Valentine the relic becomes of great importance, in the town’s center people enjoy heart shaped food and sweets from local vendors as well as various parades and music concerts.
If you want your relationship to be long and cheerful start booking your tickets to Poland my friend!
Finland - Friendship over All
While Finland celebrates St. Valentine's on February 14th the focus shifts from love to friendship. You might not see a lot of "love demonstrations" because Finnish people prefer will most likely celebrate their relationships with their friends.
Getting a card or a small token of appreciation is more than normal on this date. What can I say? Love comes in different forms.
Germany - The Pig of Love and Lust
Another country that breaks the mold of St. Valentine's Day is Germany, while they do give away chocolate like in so many other countries Germans give it a special shape: a pig.
Pig themed gifts are common place in Germany on February 14th, it is said that the pig represents luck and lust. They also write love messages that they deliver in heart shaped ginger cookies. If your partner has a sweet tooth then don't forget to visit Germany!
Japan - One for the Boys
In the West Valentine's Day is normally centered on giving gifts to women but in Japan is the other way around.
On February 14th women are expected to give chocolate to the men on their lives, yet it can not be any type of chocolate. Japan has a variety of them representing different types of relationships but mainly two types are given away:
Giri Choco - also known as "obligatory chocolate" is the one given to love interests and platonic relationships.
Honmei Choco - commonly known as "true love chocolate" it will usually come with a small gift (probably handmade) it's given to romantic partners.
This all sounds great but what about the ladies? Well not to worry because they also get their own pampering day on March 14th. If you're in Japan I hope you get tons of chocolate!
Italy - Chocolate, Dinner and Romance
There's this one old tradition in Italy were unmarried young women will wake up before dawn and look out the window, the first man they saw was said to marry them within a year or a man of his resemblance. This tradition is not as popular today since Italians prefer to celebrate with dinner dates and gift exchanges, one of the most popular of said gifts is the Baci Perugina: a box containing small chocolate covered hazelnuts wrapped with paper containing small love messages or quotes.
Some Italians will go to the trouble of taking this romantic gesture even further by making a box of delicious sweets and treats themselves all from scratch, this representing the care and love for the other person. Italians truly know how to celebrate this important date, after all St. Valentine was Italian.
Russia - New Holiday, New Traditions
St. Valentine's Day is relatively new to Russia only arriving in the early 90s, as an adopted Western holiday Russians tend to follow the "normal" method of celebrating by giving flowers, chocolates, teddy bears, and other gifts.
Yet in Russia flowers take an important and deeper meaning as it's considered the most popular and important gift on February 14th even known as the "language of love". Dinner dates are a must on this occasion but not always at a fancy restaurant or cafe, most Russians prefer a nice homemade dinner adorned with candle light and romance.
Mexico - Day of Love and Friendship
Last but not least Mexico, how could I ever go on about St. Valentine's and not mention my motherland? Impossible.
February 14th is known in Mexico as "Dia del Amor y la Amistad" (Love and Friendship Day) we not only celebrate our romantic relationships but also our friends, its common place that kids will exchange cards with their friends expressing their feelings and how much they care about each other even exchanging gifts (sweets, bracelets, teddy bears, etc.). Men will normally prepare a grand gesture for their partner, depending on how long the couple has been together, and prepare a full day of romantic activities.
These grand gestures can go from a movie and dinner date to a full on "Mariachi serenata". The man will hire a group of Mariachi and go to their beloved's place to sing traditional Mariachi songs about infinite love and romance. Nothing like singing from the heart to show our love, better start practicing some harmonies.
Love is in the Air
We might all celebrate love in different ways around the world but one thing remains a universal truth and fact: Love is felt by everyone, and we all want to enjoy it!