Valentine’s Day Traditions from Around the World

valentine's day

Many people will argue that Valentine’s Day is one of the worst holidays or is a Hallmark holiday, but I genuinely enjoy it. I think love is something that deserves to be spread, whether it be love for your significant other, love for your parents and siblings, or love for your friends.

Every February 14th, Valentine’s Day is celebrated by sending cards, candies, and flowers to people we love. Valentine’s Day is not a Hallmark holiday; it’s actually a day to remember Saint Valentine, a priest from 3rd century Rome. Saint Valentine ministered to Christians during a time when Emperor Claudius II was creating strict laws and persecuting Christians. Of course, Saint Valentine was jailed when Emperor Claudius found out what he was doing and was eventually executed on February 14, 269 AD (this date differs depending on which site you read).

Valentine’s Day is now celebrated in several countries around the world, with many cultures having their own traditions to show their love for those special to them. Check out some of these traditions from a few different countries around the world:

South Korea

Valentine’s Day is actually one of twelve days that love is celebrated on the 14th day of every month, but Valentine’s Day is where some of the most money is spent. Women give chocolate to men as a sign of affection; the men who receive a gift on this day will give a gift in return on White Day (March 14th). This day is really geared towards couples, with shops showcasing huge displays of fancy chocolate.

valentine's day


China celebrates the Double Seventh Festival, or Qixi Festival, which takes the place of Valentine’s Day. This festival falls on the seventh day of the seventh lunar month (this year it’ll be August 7th). It’s become known as Chinese Valentine’s Day and has been celebrated since the Han Dynasty. In the past, this day was celebrated by honoring oxen, young women carving melon skins, worshiping the weaver fairy, and eating skill fruit (fried pastries). Today, it’s celebrated by giving cards, flowers, and presents to loved ones. The legend of the festival has been passed down for generations; an ox herder married a fairy and the two were separated by a river by the fairy’s mother, but once a year, magpies create a bridge so the lovers can see each other.


Paris, considered one of the most romantic cities in the world, has traditions as well. Cards are sent to loved ones to pay homage to Charles, Duke of Orleans, who sent love letters to his wife while he was imprisoned. One of the most interesting traditions was the loterie d’amour (drawing for love) which has since been banned. Unmarried men and women would go into houses facing each other and call out to a chosen partner and pair up. If the man wasn’t happy with his match, he’d leave her. The deserted woman would then go to a bonfire with other women in the same situation and burn the pictures of their ungrateful lovers.


While roses might seem like the most obvious choice for your loved one, in Denmark, you purchase a bouquet of white flowers known as snowdrops. The most common tradition is purchasing a Lovers Card, in addition to writing a funny poem known as gaekkebrev. If the receiver guessed who the sender of the poem is, they’ll get rewarded with an Easter egg later in the year.

valentine's day
A traditional gaekkebrev with a snowdrop. Via

South Africa

South Africa’s most common tradition is going on a nice date with your significant other. South Africa also has a large and well known festival, and several restaurants and discos are booked out well in advance. An interesting part about the festivities is that young girls will celebrate a tradition known as Lupercalia, which is literally wearing your heart on your sleeve; girls will pin the name of their crush to their sleeve in hopes that the other sees it.


Valentine’s Day in Brazil is called Dia dos Namorados  and it’s actually celebrated on June 12th instead of February 14th. Instead of Saint Valentine, Brazilians celebrate Saint Anthony (who’s day is really close to June 12th). Saint Anthony is well known in Brazil because it’s rumored that he blessed young couples with a prosperous marriage. The western Valentine’s Day usually falls very close to Carnival week, which is also why the date is later in the year. Nevertheless, the same western celebrations, like giving flowers, gifts, and having a grand dinner, are still celebrated.

valentine's day