It’s hard to imagine Valentine’s Day without red roses, stuffed teddy bears and boxes full of chocolates – but every country around the world has their own unique take on the day of love. And no matter the different traditions and gifts – the message of love and togetherness remains the same. If you’re looking for more reasons to embrace the spirit of Valentine’s Day this year, here are just a few of the ways that love and romance are celebrated around the world.
It’s hard to believe that Denmark has only been celebrating Valentine’s Day since the 1990’s, but that hasn’t stopped them from building their own unique traditions. While we here in the states are focusing on more romantic love, Denmark celebrates all types of love and relationships – including love between friends, children and parents, siblings and romantic couples. And while you may be hard pressed to find any roses being exchanged, you’re sure to find women walking the streets with traditional pressed white flowers called snowdrops.
It’s no surprise that the country containing “the city of love” holds more Valentine’s history than anywhere else in the world. It’s rumored that the first Valentine’s Day card was shared in France when the Duke of Orleans sent love letters to his wife while he was held prisoner in the Tower of London in 1415. And if you think getting a date for Valentine’s Day is stressful in America, there used to be a French tradition where men and women would fill two houses facing each other and shout their lover’s name across the street. Those whose names were not called would gather late at night for a bonfire.
You won’t find men out on February 13th scouring for jewelry and chocolates in South Korea, but you may find women. In South Korea, Valentine’s Day is all about the men. While Valentine’s Day goes to the men, women are still plenty spoiled during the many other romantic holidays the country celebrates. On March 14th, aka ‘White Day,’ men give women boxes of chocolates.
“Valen-what?” You won’t find couples celebrating their love on February 14th, but you will see it on January 25th. In Wales, couples celebrate St. Dwynwen’s Day. St. Dwynwen established a convent on Llanddwyn Island, which can still be seen today. The rumor is that the Island is home to a magical well that can predict a couple’s future. If the fish in the well are swimming and rambunctious when you and your partner appear, you will get married. But if the fish are calm and silent, your relationship is likely to fail. And don’t expect flowers on Valentine’s Day. Instead, men and women traditionally exchange spoons carved from wood.
On Valentine’s Eve, superstition has it that if a woman puts five bay leaves on her pillow, four in the corners and one in the center, she will meet her future husband the next day. And it’s not just couples that look forward to Valentine’s Day. Children eagerly await the day because it means Jack Valentine will visit and leave them small toys and candies.
Set your alarm clock! In Italy, women wake up before the sun rises on Valentine’s Day. Rumor has it that the first man a woman sees on the 14th will be the man she marries – or at the very least he will strongly resemble the man she will marry. Before Valentine’s Day was celebrated in February, the romantic holiday took place on the Spring Festival. Young men and women would gather in gardens and parks and listen to poetry and live music together. Today however, their traditions are much more similar to that of America, and consist of exchanging flowers and sharing a romantic dinner.