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12 Vivid and Beautiful Valentine’s Traditions in the World

Valentine’s day, or a similar holiday meant to celebrate love, exists internationally, but it turns out that each culture adds its own twist to the celebration. Apart from the classic Valentine’s day cards, the stuffed teddy bears, and the candy, lovers worldwide also honor traditional ways to express love. This article is dedicated to such unique and beautiful traditions people have for the Day of Love in 12 different corners of the planet. Let's just say that some of these will surely surprise you.

1. South Korea

Valentine’s Traditions in the World locks korea
For South Koreans, just one day a year is not enough time to celebrate love, so every 14th day of the month is considered a love day, making it 12 such days in total every year. The most widely celebrated are Valentine's Day in February, the day when women give gifts, and White Day in March when it's the men's turn to do the gift-giving, but there's also a Kiss Day in June, a Movie Day in November, and a Hug Day in December, just to name a few.

2. Germany

Valentine’s Traditions in the World pig candy
Valentine's day is a holiday for the adults in Germany, with no gift exchanges being typically allowed at schools. This may sound strange, but it will make more sense once you understand that the main German symbol of the Day of Love is the pig - an animal that traditionally symbolizes luck and lust in Germany. Adults usually exchange chocolate pigs, stuffed pigs with hearts, or cards featuring cute piglets on this day. 

3. Wales

Valentine’s Traditions in the World welsh love spoon
Image Source: Hayley Finn/ Flickr
Love celebrations in Wales are also utterly unique and precious. The majority of Valentine's day celebrations in Wales actually occur on January, 25 - the day of San Dwynwen, the Welsh patron saint of lovers. On this day, lovers take long walks along the beach, and they also exchange beautiful handcrafted wooden love spoons with each other - a tradition that dates back to the 16th century.

4. Guatemala

Valentine’s Traditions in the World flower shop
In Guatemala, St.Valentine's day is known as 'El Día del Cariño', or the Day of Affection, and it's not just for lovers, as the expressions of love and gift-giving extends to all the loved ones, especially family members, but often also colleagues and neighbors. The main annual feature of the celebration occurs in Guatemala City - the Old Love Parade, a vivid and colorful parade for senior citizens.

5. Bulgaria

Valentine’s Traditions in the World glass of wine romantic
Candy and flowers are completely overshadowed by a bottle of fine local wine during the Bulgarian Valentine's day, as the holiday coincides with the Day of the Winemakers in the country. Traditionally, vine tasting competitions were held at this time in honor of Bulgaria's patron saint of wine St Trifon Zarezan. This ancient tradition is still alive these days, with many couples favoring a dinner featuring local wine as a Valentine's tradition of choice. 

6. Ghana

Valentine’s Traditions in the World chocolates
The country where chocolate takes the crown on Valentine's day is Ghana. In 2007, the country proclaimed the 14th of February as their National Chocolate Day, which makes sense given that Ghana is one of the largest producers of chocolate in the world. On this day, chocolate exhibits, special chocolate menus in restaurants, and all sorts of chocolate-themed celebrations take place in the country.

7. France

Valentine’s Traditions in the World pidgins cuddling in front of the Eiffel tower
The country that's surely overflowing with visitors in February is romantic France. But it isn't just Paris, the City of Love, that gets all the attention, as the picturesque village of Saint-Valentin in the Val de Loire region of France has special annual Valentine's day celebrations and decorations that likewise attract tourists from all over the world.
Fun fact: Did you know that the first-ever Valentine's card was sent in France when Charles, the Duke of Orleans, sent love letters to his wife from the prison in 1415?

8. Spain

Valentine’s Traditions in the World marzipan animals
In Valencia, Spain, the Day of Love isn't celebrated on the 14th of February. Instead, it falls on October, 9 - the day of Saint Dionysus. One of the most unique Spanish traditions is the making of 'macadora' - cute handmade marzipan figurines, which men gift to their female companions. Another common occurrence are vivid parades on the streets of many Spanish villages and towns.

9. Mexico

Valentine’s Traditions in the World mariachi
Image Source: Lauren Ely/ JBSA
When it comes to Mexico, showing up with a bouquet of roses and a box of chocolates at your sweetheart's doorstep won't cut it. Ideally, a man should invite an entire mariachi band, sing along with them, and present his female companion with flowers and other gifts to express his love. This display of love may seem over-the-top to some of us more pragmatic folks, but it must surely be nice to get all that love and attention.

10. South Africa

Valentine’s Traditions in the World paper cut out heart
In South Africa, women literally wear their hearts on their sleeves during Valentine's day celebration - they cut out a heart-shaped piece of paper, write their sweetheart's name on it, and pin it onto their sleeve. This tradition is also accompanied by more common ones - flowers, gift-giving and festivals.

11. Japan

Valentine’s Traditions in the World chocolate strawberries
The Korean tradition of Valentine's Day and White Day is actually a Japanese borrowing. This twofold love day tradition has been celebrated for around 40 years in Japan, and as in South Korea, only men receive gifts on Valentine's day, whereas women get a reciprocal gift the following month on White Day. Women typically gift chocolates, often homemade ones. In return, they receive a gift that's supposed to be white, be it cookies, white chocolate, other sweets, and even jewelry.

12. Romania

Valentine’s Traditions in the World flower surprise
In Romania, the pagan Spring festivities and Valentine's day celebrations intertwine in a holiday known as Dragoberte, or "the day when the birds are betrothed" celebrated on the 24th of February. During this holiday, people go out in the forest to pick early blooming flowers to gift to each other and wash their faces and hands with snow as a belief that's supposed to bring them health and happiness.
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