8 Interesting Valentine's Day Traditions From Around the World

Jan 30, 2023

Valentine’s day, the day of love is fast approaching, and we thought what better time than now to dig deeper into the history of ‘the day of love’. Valentine’s day, also called Saint Valentine’s day or the Feast of Saint Valentine is celebrated throughout the world on 14th February of every year. Although the day is named after Saint Valentine, it is suggested that valentines day has origins in the Roman festival of Lupercalia also held in mid-February. Lupercalia was a festival celebrating the arrival of spring, fertility rites, and the pairing off of women with men by lottery. Later, at the end of the 5th century, Pope Gelasius I forbade the celebration of Lupercalia which is attributed to it being replaced with Valentine’s day. However, valentines day was only started to be celebrated as the day of love during the 14th century, hence, the true origins of valentine’s day remain vague.

Valentine's Day Traditions from Around the World

It is believed that the day may have been named after Saint Valentine, who was a priest and was martyred around 270 CE by the emperor Claudius II Gothicus. There are different versions of why the day may have been named after him. The most popular version is that St. Valentine defied the emperor’s orders by secretly marrying couples to spare the husbands from being sent to war, and that is why his feast day is celebrated as a day of love, which we all now know as Valentine’s day. 

Although Valentine's day is commonly celebrated by exchanging greeting cards and/or other tokens of love such as chocolates, flowers, etc. there are different traditions followed around the world to celebrate the day of love.

European Traditions

1. France 

Traditionally, the French celebrated valentine’s day with “une loterie d’amour”. This custom was to pair up singles together to ensure everyone could celebrate valentine’s day. On this day, singles would go and stand outside each other's houses in the hope to be paired up with someone. However, if the males did not find themselves feeling attracted to the woman they were paired up with, they would simply leave her. In retaliation, the rejected women used to burn photographs of the males they were abandoned by. Later, this custom was banned by the government as things started to get out of hand. 

The old customs have now been taken over by contemporary valentine’s traditions and now valentine’s day in France is celebrated by exchanging gifts and flowers. On Valentine's day, florists in France turn over what they usually earn in one week. There is also a village in Indre named after St. Valentine, which holds many events to celebrate love on this day. 

2. Italy

Valentine’s day is called La Festa di San Valentino (Saint Valentine’s Day) or La Festa degli Innamorati (The Lovers’ Holiday) in Italy. Italians celebrate Valentine’s day just like how it is commonly celebrated in other countries, by exchanging gifts, flowers, love notes, etc. Recently, influenced by the best-selling book “Ho Voglio di te” a new valentine’s day tradition has started, called Lucchetti dell’Amore. This tradition involves young Italian lovers professing their love for each other by locking a padlock, especially on famous bridges, and then throwing away the key, usually in the river under the bridge. 

3. England

In England, Valentine’s day celebrations include exchanging gifts such as flowers, chocolates, and love-themed teddies, men pleasing women by gifting them jewelry and having a romantic date usually over dinner. 

Also Read: 50+ Romantic Movies To Binge-Watch With Your Partner This Valentine's Day

Asian Traditions

1. China

Valentine’s day, known as Qixi Festival or Chinese Valentine’s Day, is considered to be the most romantic festival out of all the traditional Chinese festivals. Qixi Festival was traditionally celebrated in a variety of ways in various regions of China. Women showing their skills, worshiping the weaver fairy, honoring oxen, etc. were some of how it was celebrated. However, slowly these traditions are disappearing and are no longer being practiced. Western style of celebrating valentine’s day has become popular, and now valentine's day in China is celebrated by exchanging flowers, gifts, chocolates, and other presents. 

2. South Korea

In South Korea, valentine's day is celebrated by women giving gifts to the man they are attracted to. On this day, women confess their love to men by typically gifting chocolates. The chocolates are either made by the women themselves or are high-quality handmade chocolates from chocolate shops. Valentine’s day can be nerve-wracking for the women, as they have to make the first step in confessing their love, and also wait another month for ‘White day’ which is on 14th March to know if the man also has feelings for her. 

3. Japan

Valentine’s day in Japan is celebrated in the same way as in South Korea, where women confess their love for the man they are attracted to romantically by giving chocolates, and then wait a month for ‘White day’ to know if the man is also interested in her in the same way. There are two types of chocolates given on Valentine’s day, one is called ‘giri-chocos’ and the other is called ‘honmei-chocos’.  Giri means obligation, so these chocolates are obligatory gifts given to loved ones, and are basic ready-made chocolates, whereas,honmei- chocos are given by women to those she has a romantic interest in. Honmei-chocos are fancier, more expensive, and can also be homemade. 

Also Read: 10 Stay-at-Home Valentine's Day Date Ideas For You

Latin America Traditions

1. Mexico

Valentine's day is taken very seriously in Mexico and is known as "Dia de San Valentin" or "Day of Saint Valentine", which translates to the day of love and friendship. Hence, in Mexico Valentine’s day is not exclusive to lovers, but also a day to celebrate friendship. It is commonly celebrated by gifting heart-shaped colorful balloons and flowers to friends and lovers. Mexicans also love to dance and party, so on Valentine’s day Mexicans gather and dance to traditional music over some delicious food. 

2. Brazil

Valentine’s day, known as "Dia dos Namorados" or "Lovers' Day" in Brazil is celebrated on 12 June, unlike other countries. In Brazil, it is more common to celebrate Valentine’s day with the significant other only. Brazil has a tradition of celebrating the day of love by having dinner together, planning surprises, giving gifts such as chocolates, and flowers, and exchanging love letters. 

Also Read: 30 Latest Valentine's Day Gift Ideas That Your Partner Will Love


The most common way of celebrating Valentine’s day is exchanging gifts, flowers, chocolates, and presents, and although every country has its traditions, the intention and the purpose remain the same- to celebrate love! 

About Author


Sachi is a fashion enthusiast and a home decor hoarder. You will mostly find her cozied up on her couch hunting for new trends. When not on the couch, she spends her time baking cookies and cakes to satisfy her never-ending craving for sweets!

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