How Is Valentine’s Day Celebrated Around the World?

Valentine Day traditions Around the World

Saint Valentine’s Day is a holiday observed on February 14th every year in many countries around the world – although it is not always a holiday in every country. Since the High Middle Ages it has been associated with romantic love and it has now evolved into a holiday during which lovers express their love for each other by presenting flowers, sending greeting cards and offering confectionery.

Perhaps you might be used to celebrating Valentine’s Day with boxes of chocolate and candy, teddy bears and cheesy greeting cards – but this romance holiday is not celebrated the same way around the world. Every country that celebrates Valentine’s Day has a slightly different take on the tradition, so let’s take a look at some of the diverse Valentine Day traditions around the world .


In Denmark, it is a Valentine’s Day tradition to give a “gaekkebrev” which translates as “joking letter” and consists of a funny poem or rhyme written on intricately cut paper. The letter is signed anonymously and is usually sent by the male admirer to the female. If she can guess who sent it, he owes her an Easter egg when Easter rolls around. Also in Denmark, rather than sharing roses people will instead give pressed white flowers called snowdrops.

Valentine Day traditions around the world: Denmark
Denmark: photo credit: Lauramakira via photopin cc

South Korea

There are actually two versions of Valentine’s Day in South Korea – on February 14th women will treat their husbands and boyfriends to flowers, candy and chocolate and then on March 14th (known as White Day) the men will return the favour by presenting treats to their lady. Also, men usually give gifts on White Day to their sweethearts.

However, if you are single the holiday for you is April 14th – Black Day. On this day, singles will mourn their lack of love by eating dark-coloured black bean paste noodles.

Valentine Day traditions around the world: Black Day in Korea
Black Day in Korea: photo credit: Pabo76 via photopin cc

South Africa

On February 14th in South Africa the women will wear their hearts on their sleeves – literally. They will pin the names of their love interest on their shirtsleeves, which comes from a tradition originating in ancient Rome called Lupercalia. The idea is that the man you admire will learn of your secret affection for him and it might just spark a romance.

Valentine Day traditions around the world: South Africa
South Africa Valentine Card: photo credit: valart2008 via photopin cc


On Valentine’s Day in Wales it is a custom for men to give their sweethearts “love-spoons” – a tradition that dates back many years. The wooden spoons were traditionally hand carved and the designs they bore were symbolic. For example, if the giver carved a key into the spoon it would symbolise his heart. A wheel symbolised a strong work ethic and if beads were added they usually represented his ideal number of offspring.

Valentine Day traditions around the world: Welsh Lovespoon
Welsh Lovespoon: photo credit: MuseumWales via photopin cc

Valentine’s Day, while it is always related to love and romance, is celebrated in so many different ways all over the world. These are just a few of the different types of Valentine’s Day traditions in other cultures – have you experienced any others you would like to add?

About Kelly Dunning


A Canadian freelance writer with a love of art, culture, literature and adventure, Kelly loves exploring foreign lands and expressing her experiences through the power of the written word. She and her English boyfriend Lee run, packed full with travel guides, stories and inspiration for those who dream of travel. They have been location independent and travelling the world digital-nomad style for the last three years, with no address, no car and no fixed schedule.

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