Ah, Valentine’s Day. The one time of year to show that special someone you feel something more than just fondness for them. Personally? We’re all about making sure the person you love knows you care about them all the time but going above and beyond? Well, that’s hard to do everyday — talk about overwhelm — so having a specific date to go all out makes pretty good sense.
But how do you mix it up year after year? Because, let’s get real, keeping things fresh is a magic bullet to maintaining a relationship. And we believe we have some ideas on how to do that with a look at how 14 different countries — in no particular order, mind you — show their love big time.
South Korea — love is in every month
South Koreans don’t have just one day to celebrate their love for each other, they have a day set aside on the 14th of every month. These are themed, of course — May 14th is the “Day of Roses,” the 14th of June is the “Day of Kisses,” etc. — and the whole country celebrates. There’s even a day set aside for singles and mourning their solitary state. April 14th or “Black Day” has the unattached dress in head-to-toe black, getting together with their like-minded friends and eating jajangmyeon noodles — Korean noodles with black bean sauce — in woeful solidarity.
Argentina — a kiss for a sweet
Not just one day, but a week of sweetness. That’s how Argentina celebrates their Valentine’s Day in July. Lovers exchange kisses for sweets and make a whole week about romance.
The Philippines — “Dearly Beloved” to the Nth power
On February 14th, hundreds, sometimes thousands, of couples get married in the Philippines en masse. Yep. And if you’re low on nuptial funds, no worries. The government will host your ceremony — along with hundreds of others — as a public service.
Ghana — Say it with chocolate
Valentine’s Day is known as National Chocolate Day in Ghana, one of the largest cocoa producing countries in the world. Grab hold of your honey’s hand, shower him or her with delicious chocolate and enjoy performances, musical events and themed menus at restaurants throughout the country. Satisfying and delicious.
Taiwan — Love in bloom
Taiwan is known for its incredible flowers so it’s no surprise the country celebrates Valentine’s Day not once but twice a year — 14th of February and the 7th of July. Men are expected to give their loves gorgeous bouquets to profess their adoration and the color and number of blooms have deep meaning. For example red roses mean “my only love” and giving 99 roses professes “love forever” while receiving 108 roses is “Will you marry me?” The ultimate “Say it with flowers.”
Wales — Taking spooning next level
The Welsh tradition of celebrating Valentine’s Day is sweetly unique. Known as the Day of San Dwynwen and shared on January 25th, lovers exchange beautiful handcrafted wooden spoons to show their adoration. A tradition since the 16th century, the extravagant utensils are heart meltingly stunning.
Finland & Estonia
Both countries turn February 14th into a celebration of friendship. “Happy Friends Day” cards are exchanged and folks hangout, affirming their close bond. Called “Ystävänpäivä” in Finland and “Sõbrapäev” in Estonia.
Japan — Say it with chocolate (even if it hurts)
Not sure if you’re in the Friend Zone? Experience Valentine’s Day in Japan and you’ll learn for sure. Women give different types of chocolate to the men in their lives to convey their affections. If you receive hand-delivered high-quality honmei-choco (“true feeling”) you’re her beloved. If you get the cheaper giri-choco (“obligation chocolate”) then you’re either an acquaintance, colleague or, yep, in the Friend Zone. But if you receive cho-giri or “ULTRA-obligation chocolate” then you’re one of the unpopular dudes in her life. Or it’s just her way of saying, “Buh-bye.” Not only that, but when White Day comes on March 14th, whoever received honmei-choco is expected to reciprocate the lady’s affection by giving her a gift worth at least two to three times the chocolate given to you. Sweet.
Norway — love dots
Valentine’s Day is when Norwegians surprise their special someone with the endearing Gaekkebrev or roughly translated, “Joke Letters.” Not a joke as in “ha-ha”, but “joke” as in these are from secret admirers who sign their poetic missives with a dot for each letter of their name to keep it secret. If the woman guesses correctly, they get an Easter egg at Easter. If not, then she has to give an egg to her admirer.
South Africa — Sleeve? Meet heart.
If you've ever been in the dark about how the object of your affection feels about you, fall in love in South Africa. On Valentine's Day, young single women pin the name of their heart’s desire on their sleeve and show off their love for that special someone the entire day. In your face admiration. Love it.
Brazil — Love waits for Carnival
Poor Valentine’s Day didn’t stand a chance against Carnival so they moved it to June 12th. Called Dia dos Namorados or Lover’s Day, sweethearts celebrate with gifts, cards, flowers and chocolates and instead of St. Valentine, the day honors St. Anthony because the 13th is St Anthony’s Day. The Catholic Portuguese priest counseled couples in their relationships and he’s considered the Saint of Marriage and Matchmaking. Ya know, a South American Yenta.
China — if you can’t be with the one you love… wait
There once were two lovers from different social classes whose romance was not allowed… except for once a year, when they could meet for one day. And so it is the Chinese celebrate Valentine’s Day or Qxi — the Chinese Festival of Love — on the seventh day of the seventh month on the Chinese calendar. Singles hoping for future love prepare fruit and couples pray for prosperity.
Chile — “the land of poets”
On Dia de San Valentin or Valentine’s Day, Chileans deck out the entire country. It is considered a special occasion for couples and everywhere you’ll find decorations in honor of this amazing day of romance. Streets, shops, restaurants, malls — everywhere you look in Chile, you’ll see flowers, balloons, heart garlands and more for days leading up to the 14th. Then on the special day, flowers, chocolates, jewelry and love letters are exchanged between lovers and elaborate romantic dinners are shared at fully decked out restaurants. Special menu? Oh, yeah. Wherever you go. What a way to honor “the land of poets.”
Last but by no means least… France — the first, the last, the forever
It is said that France produced the first ever Valentine’s Day card. The 15th century love letters Charles, the Duke of Orleans wrote his wife from prison were pure poetry. And so it is that France is considered the first, last, and forever word on love and romance. Not to mention there is a French village called “Valentine” — the ultimate place to be from February 12th to the 14th. The trees are covered in love notes, multiple marriage proposals are offered, and you even have the chance to plant your own lover’s tree with the dozens — probably thousands — of others. Ah… love.
From the heart
No matter what you do or how you celebrate Valentine’s Day, we wish you love every day of the year.
And so as our way of saying “Happy Valentine’s Day,” we end with one of our favorite professions of eternal love.
i carry your heart with me(i carry it in
my heart)i am never without it(anywhere
i go you go,my dear;and whatever is done
by only me is your doing,my darling)
no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i want
no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)
and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you
here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows
higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart
i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)
— “(i carry your heart with me [i carry it in])” by e.e. cummings