Valentine's Traditions Around the World

Hannah Galvin inspires us to go beyond the norm this Valentine's Day

Hannah Galvin
14th February 2021
It’s February, and Valentine’s Day is approaching quickly, filling many of us with excitement and many others with dread. So if you’re tired of chocolate, flowers, and cards, why not find some inspiration from these Valentine’s traditions from around the world? 

South Africa 

It is customary for young women to pin a note with the name of the person they admire to their sleeve, occasionally leading to a mutual declaration of love. This literal wearing of hearts on sleeves harks back to Roman tradition. 

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In China, love is celebrated during ‘Qixi,’ a festival in August, which is based on the story of star-crossed lovers, kept apart by society for all but one day each year. During the festival, single women prepare offerings of fruit in the hope of finding love. The romantic festival ends with the alignment of stars Vega and Altair, symbolic of the lover’s annual meeting. 

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One romantic Welsh tradition is to gift love spoons; handmade wooden spoons marked with intricate symbols, signifying the maker’s love for the recipient. These spoons are also common gifts for Welsh weddings, anniversaries, and births.  

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Czech Republic 

Traditionally, Czech couples celebrate their love by paying a visit to the statue of Czech romantic poet, Karel Hynek Mácha on May 1st. A kiss underneath the cherry blossom is thought to bring a year of good fortune. 

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South Korea 

South Koreans celebrate love on every ‘14th’ of the year. Perhaps the most unusual is April’s ‘Black Day,’ dedicated to singletons. Single friends gather to find comfort in their rejections over a meal of Jajangmyeon (black noodles). 

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Unmarried women in Italy were encouraged to wake before dawn on February 14th to spot their future husbands. It is thought that the first man they laid eyes on that morning (or one with a similar appearance) would marry them within the year. 

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France: the country of love. Not always. In a now banned French tradition, rejected women would come together on the evening of the 14th for a bonfire, burning pictures of the men who had rejected them and hurling insults towards people of the opposite sex. 

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Finland & Estonia 

Finishing on a heart-warming note, February 14th in both Finland and Estonia is Friend’s Day, where citizens celebrate platonic relationships over large group meals and outdoor activities like ice skating and sledding. Petition to adopt this sweet celebration of friendship worldwide?


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