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10 Valentine’s Day Traditions Around the World

by AIFS Abroad
Heart hands in Prague, Czech Republic

Last Updated on June 20, 2023 by AIFS Abroad

Valentine’s Day is celebrated around the world to express our love and affection for the special people in our lives. Although the holiday originated in Europe, its sentiment has spread to other countries, many with their own unique customs and traditions.  

Let’s take a look at some interesting Valentine’s Day traditions from around the world: 

Czech Republic 

While some younger folks are starting to exchange gifts on February 14, traditionally the Czech Republic celebrates its “Day of Love” on May 1. It’s common for couples to mark the holiday by sharing a kiss under a blossoming cherry tree for good luck. 

Costa Rica 

Valentine’s Day isn’t just for couples in Costa Rica. On February 14, Costa Rica observes El dia Del Amor y la Amistad which translates to “Love and Friendship Day”. The day is all about expressing your love for all the meaningful people in your life. 

Denmark 

In Denmark, Valentinsdag is celebrated by couples and friends on February 14. One tradition is to anonymously gift your loved one with a funny poem. And the fun doesn’t end there – if the poem recipient guesses their secret admirer’s identity, they’ll find out on Easter when the poet presents them with an egg as a reward for guessing correctly. 

England 

It was an old Valentine’s Day tradition in England for women to place five bay leaves on their pillow the night before Valentine’s Day to bring dreams of their future spouse. Today, the holiday is celebrated by exchanging gifts like chocolates and flowers. 

France 

In France, Valentine’s Day is known as la Saint-Valentin or la fête des amoureux. Unlike in the United States, friends and children don’t participate in Valentine’s Day traditions. The holiday in France exclusively celebrates romantic love rather than platonic. 

Germany 

Did you know that pigs are a symbol of love in Germany? Instead of Cupids, it’s common for German Valentine’s Day gifts to feature a pig. Don’t expect to see children exchanging Valentine’s Day cards, though. Unlike in some places around the world, Valentine’s Day in Germany is an adult-oriented holiday.  

Japan 

On February 14, women traditionally present their sweethearts with chocolates. Japan also celebrates White Day a month later on March 14, when recipients of Valentine’s Day chocolates are expected to give a reciprocal gift.  

South Africa 

During the Valentine’s Day season in South Africa, starry-eyed romantics (usually young women) pin the name of their love interest to their sleeve, often in hopes of catching the attention of their crush. Talk about wearing your heart on your sleeve! 

Italy 

In Italy, Valentine’s Day is celebrated much like it is in other countries around the world. On February 14, couples express their love and affection for one another through romantic gestures such as giving flowers, chocolates and cards. In Verona (the birthplace of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet), visitors flock to Juliet’s House to pay homage to the ill-fated lovers. 

Spain 

Valentine’s Day in Spain is all about romance. Just like many other places around the world, couples in Spain get together on Valentine’s Day for intimate dinners and nights out exploring the town. Fun fact: Catalonia has its own day of love called Sant Jordi. On April 23, the Catalan custom is to exchange roses and books with your loved ones.  

Around the world, different cultures put their own unique spin on Valentine’s Day. 

Although traditions may differ, the spirit of Valentine’s Day remains the same – spreading love and affection. 

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