Celebrations of Love around the world might look very different from one country to the next!! What does love look like to you and how do you celebrate love in the country that you call home? We found some truly fascinating Valentine’s Day traditions from around the world that we wanted to share with you all! Some truly curious, other fascinating and some a bit more traditional and ‘normal’.
A valentine is a gift to the heart, a friend to the spirit, a golden thread to the meaning of life.
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Here in Australia, our Valentine’s Day tradition is centred around the act of gift giving! A typical Valentine’s Day would consist of some flowers; typically red roses, some chocolates and a romantic candlelight dinner in a special restaurant. Whilst there is an emphasis on both gift giving towards men and women in Australia, the focus is slightly more inclined towards the men spoiling the special lady-love in their lives.
2. Denmark & Norway
A new-ish sort of a Valentine’s Day tradition has sprung up in Denmark and Norway and it is as cute as can be. Although it is more closely related to a bit of fun for Easter rather than about Valentine’s Day itself! Here men send women a ‘gaekkebrev’, which will take the format of a poem on elaborately cut paper, which has been signed anonymously. The only clue given as to who sent the letter can be found in the number of dots signed as a representation of the number of letters in the sender’s name. Of course the women need to be rewarded for their guessing-skills and this reward comes in the format of an Easter egg later in the year! Of course if she can’t manage to guess correctly, she is the one that will owe him an Easter egg at Easter time! Go figure!
Denmark also has another tradition as part of Valentine’s Day, where instead of a bunch of fresh roses, the sender can send the loved one some ‘Snowdrops’ which is an exchange of pressed white flowers! I used to love pressing flowers when I was young girl, so this sounds like fun to me!
Photo Credit: Geraint Rowland, Flickr
Wales celebrates St. Dwynwen’s Day, similar to Valentine’s Day, on the 25th of January. This day is all about the Welsh patron saint of lovers, and on this day it is all about the men gifting a love-spoon to the one he loves. Back in the day these wooden spoons were hand crafted with intricate details and designs. Thought had to go into these designs as the different symbols had different meaning to portray to the one you loved. Keys, for example, would symbolize the man’s heart, whilst beads indicated his preferred number of offspring he wanted to have. Today this Valentine’s Day tradition has even spread as far as the gifting of love-spoons at weddings, anniversaries and births. Who would love to receive an intricate wooden love-spoon for Valentine’s Day from their loved one?
The tables get turned with Japan’s Valentine’s Day Traditions, when on February the 14th, it is all about the women celebrating the men in their lives. This day is about the females taking pride in showing appreciation and love towards the men who are important to them. They do this via the act of giving chocolates! Interestingly, the type of chocolate you gift towards the men is also of great importance! When showing respect and appreciation towards a man where no romance is involved, such as her Dad or her boss, she will choose to gift some girl-choko or ‘obligation chocolate’. For the boyfriends, lovers and husbands, the women will choose to gift honmei-choko, or ‘favourite or true-feeling chocolate’ and if they really want to make their loved man feel special they might even choose to make these chocolates themselves!! Not too worry though, there is a day called ‘White Day’ about a month later that is all about focusing and celebrating the females in the men’s lives! On this day the men can spoil the women with gifts. A day for him and a day for her, who doesn’t love to be spoiled? I think we all do!
Photo Credit: Takashi Hososhima, Flickr
5. South Korea
Similar to the Japanese tradition, South Korean women also spoil their men with chocolates on Valentine’s Day. Whilst White Day is a day reserved for the men to return their affections and spoil the women in their lives. The South Korean’s take it a step further however and have introduced a Black Day, a month after White Day. This day has been created for all the single people who did not receive anything on Valentine’s Day or White Day. On this day they get together with their single friends to enjoy a dish of black noodles! The South Koreans love the concept of love so much so that every 14th of each and every month has been dubbed a celebration of love in one form or another – January 14, kicks off with Candle Day; February 14- Valentine’s Day; March 14- White Day; April 14- Black Day; May 14- Rose Day; June 14- Kiss Day; July 14- Silver Day; August 14- Green Day; September 14- Music Day; October 14- Wine Day; November 14- Movie Day; December 14- Hug Day. I think I kinda like that!!!
6. South Africa
South Africa has a typical Western Style country Valentine’s Day tradition in that it celebrates the day of love in pretty much a gift giving sort of manner. Love is shown through the act of giving a gift, typically in the format of red roses and a red heart-shaped box of chocolates. It is a day to spend time to get together and romance each other in a reminder of ones love for each other. I remember that even from a young age in school, their was a group of students who were responsible for the gifting of Valentine’s roses. The boys could go and purchase these roses anonymously and they would get delivered to the chosen girl on Valentine’s day. A red rose was for ‘love’ whilst a white was indicative of a ‘like’.
Photo Credit: Paul Saad, Flickr
Ah yes, dreamy Italy with Italians who are never afraid to express their emotions to the fullest!! In Italy the Valentine’s Day tradition that stuck around since 1922, seems to be to gift Baci chocolates to you lover. The word Baci literally means ‘kisses’, how perfect is that! These chocolates always include a message of love or friendship inside the chocolate! You will also find an abundance of love-themed shows and festivals around to attend! A newer tradition in Italy is surrounding friendships and celebrating the friends who have been around for possibly longer than the lovers have, so there is nothing wrong with heading off to enjoy a shot of Limoncello or Prosecco with your closest friend.
Photo Credit: Dustin Gaffke, Flickr
8. Finland & Estonia
Some countries choose to overlook the celebration of love between a couple and instead focus on the love found in the friendship we have. In Finland and Estonia, it is about the celebration of friendship and you get to express gratitude to your friends by the gifting of cards and meaningful presents. Instead of being called Valentine’s Day, this day is called “Ystävän Päivä” in Finnish and “Sõbrapäev’’ in Estonian. ‘Happy Friendship Day to all our readers on the blog today!’
Photo Credit: Ryan Anger, Flickr
9. Norfolk, England
Who has heard of Jack Valentine? This character is filled with mystery, knocking on doors of homes that have younger children, Jack Valentine loves to leave little treats and gifts for the kids in the home on Valentine’s Day Eve. What a nice gesture for the children to receive a bit of spoiling and love as well! Together with this old age tradition, Valentine’s Day itself also still consists of the traditional customs of giving cards and presents as a symbol of their love for each other!
Whilst this Valentine’s Day Tradition is not practiced widely anymore, and is considered mostly as folklore, I thought it was a really interesting tradition that I wanted to include for you all. Back in the day, on Valentine’s Day eve, single women used to place five bay leaves around her pillows. One on each corner and one in the middle. The belief here is that it would bring these single ladies dreams of their future husbands-to-be! Imagine sleeping on some bay leaves at night! Sound cozy?? Or what figures if you don’t like the look of the man that appears in your dreams haha!!
Another variation of this tradition was to sprinkle bay leaves with rosewater, again placing them on the pillows whilst saying “Good Valentine, be kind to me, In dreams let me my true love see”. Interesting huh!
Even with all these interesting traditions around, Valentine’s Day is of course what you choose to make with it! In our household, me and hubby focuses on sharing our love through experiences rather than through gifts. For the past few years that has meant booking a weekend away in a truly romantic luxurious cabin. For us, having those days to ourselves, kids free whilst soaking away in a spa and enjoy a fire crackling away has meant so much more than what a gift ever could! How are you choosing to spend your Valentine’s Day today?? Happy Valentine’s Day from us to you! Whether you are in a relationship or single, make sure to spoil yourself a little today! x
Love is like playing the piano.
First you must learn to
play by the rules,
then you must forget the
rules and play from your heart.
Happy Valentine’s Day.
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Photo Credit: CraftFancy, Flickr
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