Valentine’s Day traditions around the world

Flowers, chocolates and candle-lit dinner are all things traditional when it comes to Valentine’s Day in North America. However, there are unique traditions for celebrating the special day in other countries.

Argentina

Instead of celebrating on one day, Argentinians dedicate a whole week in July from the 13th to the 20th to celebrate “Sweetness week.” Chocolates and sweets are exchanged between lovers.

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Brazil

Brazilizans skip the Feb. 14 celebrates and celebrate Dia dos Namorados or “Lovers’ Day” on June 12 instead. Music festivals and performances are held through the country to celebrate the day.

China

Chinese Valentine’s Day falls on the seventh day of the seventh lunar month (also known as the Double Seventh Festival or Qixi) which will be on August 25 this year. The festival is based on a romantic legend about a weaver girl and an ox herd.

Denmark

The country celebrates Valentine’s Day with a twist. Rather than roses, friends and admirers exchange pressed white flowers called snowdrops.

Finland

On Feb. 14, those in Finland celebrate “Happy Friendship Day” where people exchange presents and cards. However, there is an old tradition that only happened on Feb. 29 during leap year. Girls would be allowed to propose to guys, but if the guy rejects the proposal, they will have to give fabric as a gift to the girl to make a dress.

France

Valentine’s Day cards have been a popular tradition in France and around the world. However, an old tradition was the loterie d’amour or “drawing for love.” Men and women would fill houses that faced one another and then take turns calling out to one another to pair-up. If men weren’t satisfied with their match they could simply leave for another partner. And the women left unmatched gathered afterwards for a bonfire.

During the bonfire, women burned photos of the men who wronged them and threw insults. The tradition has since been banned by the government because it became so uncontrollable.

Japan/ South Korea/ Taiwan

Women profess their feelings by giving chocolate to their significant other. The type of chocolate given is taken into considerations such as high quality chocolates are for prospective partners while cheaper or “obligation chocolates” are given to acquaintances. When White Day comes around, March 14, those who received chocolates are expected to return the favour by giving their loved ones presents worth two or three-times the value.

Norway

A Norwegian tradition called Gaekkebrev or translated into English as “joke letters” originated in the 18th century where secret admirers write poems, cut intricate patterns into the paper and pressing a small white snowdrop flower inside. The “joke” part of the letter is that the secret admirer signs off with a dot for each letter of their name. If the receiver guesses the admirer correctly she wins an Easter egg at Easter.

South Africa

It is customary for women in South Africa to wear their hearts on their sleeves on Feb. 14. by pinning the name of their love interest on the shirtsleeves. This is an ancient Roman tradition known as Lupercalia.

Wales

People of Wales celebrate Saint Dwynwen, the Welsh patron saint of lovers, on Jan. 25 instead of Feb. 14. The Welsh gave gifts called a “love spoon” where Welsh men carved intricate wooden spoons as a token of affection for the women they loved. Each symbol and pattern signified a different meaning such as horseshoes for good luck, wheels for support, and keys for the way to a man’s heart.

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