In the U.S., Americans celebrate Valentine’s Day with a card, candy, or a stuffed animal and take their lovers out for a fancy dinner and be all lovey dovey. However, Valentine’s Day is not just a U.S. holiday. In fact, Valentine’s is a global holiday with different traditions from countries all around the world. Here are Valentine’s Day traditions from 15 different countries around the world.
1. South Africa
In South Africa, St. Valentine’s Day is welcomed every year with a great deal of pomp and circumstance. According to tradition, young girls will pin their sweetheart’s name on their sleeve and wear it throughout the day. There are festivals held in cities all over the country, all covered in flowers, hearts, birds, and traditional African decor.
If you’re reading this in February, you are too late to celebrate Valentine’s in Mexica because it is celebrated on January 14. But you can still celebrate it year round, as Mexican culture has truly adopted the European tradition of Valentine’s day and made it special and unique. It is fondly referred to as “El Día del Amor y la Amistad”, or “The Day of Love and Friendship”.
Greece has the unique pleasure of originating one of the most prominent characters seen around Valentine’s Day. In Greek mythology, Cupid is the son of Aphrodite. All over Greece, Valentine’s Day is considered to be a day when forgiveness and friendship shall reign, and all bad feeling is forgotten.
People in Australia are very dedicated to making sure friends and loved ones feel loved and appreciated on Valentine’s Day through simple acts of kindness. It has been shown that men in Australia are a little more forthcoming with signs of affection, as the majority of cards in Australia are bought by men.
Spain is known as a very romantic country year round, so needless to say they really bring it home on Valentine’s Day. Traditional gifts of flowers and chocolates are very popular as well as candlelit dinners and other tokens of affection. To them, Valentine’s Day is really about making someone else feel spoiled.
Valentine’s Day traditions in Scotland are very important and very sweet. Valentine’s cards are delivered by young and old, usually anonymously. There is also a lot of pressure put on everyone to find a Valentine Date. Customarily, the first boy or girl you encounter on the street on Valentine’s Day becomes your Valentine.
The people of Singapore celebrate Valentine’s Day with music, art, and romance. It usually lines up nicely with the Chinese New Year Celebrations. Around the 15th day of these celebrations, single girls will gather at the river to pray for their very own Valentine and throw in mandarin oranges for good luck.
There are a lot of traditional English customs for Valentine’s Day that are designed to help single girls find a husband. Single women wake up very early on Valentine’s Day because apparently the first man they see will either be or look just like the man they will marry.
Valentine’s Day in Denmark is very conventional, with traditional gifts like cards exchanged by all. Flowers are also very important in Denmark. The snowdrop is a white flower that symbolizes love and care. These white flowers are given by all to that special someone on Valentine’s Day.
France is said to be the originator of the Valentine’s Day celebration, as it coincided with the time of year that birds began to mate. They are also said to be the originators of the Valentine’s Day card. For that, we can forgive them for their now banned tradition of publically burning pictures of old, scorned lovers.
Valentine’s Day is celebrated on two different dates by Japanese people. On February 14 women shower the men they love with gifts like chocolates, called “hon-mei”, cards, and other tokens of love. Then on March 14 men have the chance to return the favor and pamper the women in their lives.
Though it is a relatively new holiday in India, Valentine’s Day is loved by all, but especially younger people. Traditional gifts like cards, flowers, and candy are exchanged. Though there is still some resistance from those who feel that Valentine’s Day is as an exclusively western holiday, young people appreciate that there is a day dedicated to love.
Unlike other European countries, Iceland does not put much fanfare into Valentine’s Day celebrations. That being said, flowers are often exchanged, as they represent the work that goes into making a relationship grow. Other traditional gifts and cards are also exchanged, but nothing too overboard.
Valentine’s Day in Austria is met with dances, concerts, and a lot of other festivities. A traditional gift for Valentine’s Day would be red flowers. Red flowers, such as roses, have been a symbol of love for a long time, so it makes sense that they are given on this day. On the day, the whole country will be decorated with balloons, flowers, and all kinds of festive decor.
Though Valentine’s Day is usually February 14, it is also celebrated on June 12 in Brazil. It is called “Dia dos Namorados” which means “Lover’s Day”. This day is usually spent with friends and family, but special parties are also had. It is Brazil, and they certainly know how to throw a party.