How The Rest Of The World Celebrates Valentine's Day

Ever wonder how different cultures around the world celebrate Valentine's day, or if they even do?  Here are a few unique Valentine's Day traditions from around the world.

Japan: Men aren't the chocolate givers in Japan, the women are. And not just any ol' box of chocolates. These chocolates are handmade works of art. There are two main types of traditional Japanese Valentine's Day chocolates,“Giri-choco", and “Honmei-choco”. “Giri” means obligation, a.k.a, no romance involved. Giri-Choco is given to friends, colleagues, bosses, and close male friends.  Honmei-choco translates to, "true feeling chocolate." These beautiful chocolates are given to a boyfriend, lover, or husband to signify true love. The Honmei-choco is traditionally prepared by the woman giving it.

Philippines: Ever dreamed of walking down the aisle with thousands of other couples? Well, here's your chance! In the Philippines, Valentine's Day is celebrated with mass weddings. Seriously. On Valentine's Day, hundreds of couples across the country come together to be married or renew their vows in colossal wedding ceremonies held across the Philippines in malls and large public spaces.


Iraq: Though the holiday isn’t accepted everywhere in Iraq, those who do celebrate have developed a few of their own traditions. Iraqi Kurds believe in a feast of love. Specifically, that the preservation of a red apple with cloves representing Adam and Eve’s story, will bring prosperity and love.

South Africa: Some young South Africans celebrate Valentine’s Day by pinning the name of their Valentine to their sleeve. Young lovers follow an old-age Roman festival of 'Lupercalia'. According to this traditional festival, young girls pin their lover's name on their sleeves. At some places, men also follow this custom.

FUN FACT: do you know where the phrase “to wear your heart on your sleeve” comes from? Although it was first recorded in the 1600s in Shakespeare’s play named Othello, during the Middle Ages a knight in battle would pin a lady’s handkerchief to his sleeve as a way of publicly proclaiming his love for her.

Germany: I have the Germans to thank for one of my favorite Valentine's Day traditions, the Lebkuchenherzen, or gingerbread heart. Imagine, a big yummy gingerbread cookie, covered in super cheeky phrases, attached to a ribbon to wear around your neck. YES, PLEASE! Having a half-Austrian husband, he has bestowed a Lebkuchenherzen upon me a time or two. But truth be told, we usually get them at Oktoberfest!


Estonia: In Estonia, Valentine’s Day is called “Friend’s Day” so that single people are not left out of the festivities. While streets may still be decorated with hearts and other Valentine’s symbols, there is also an emphasis on nonromantic love, with friends and family members exchanging presents. That's one way to make sure no one feels left out!

Guatemala: Valentine’s Day is known as El Día del Cariño in Guatemala, encourages celebrating love for friends and family as much as your partner. Guatemala City gets into the spirit with lots of colorful pageantries, with revelers dressing up in feathered masks and Mayan-inspired clothing. And don't miss the senior citizen’s parade.

Italy- It should come as no surprise, that Italy is the Place to be on Valentine's Day. More specifically, Verona, known for being the land of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. On Valentine's Day, couples pour into the city for,“Verona in Love.” To enjoy a number of V-day events, including tours that retrace the tragic lovers’ footsteps, a contest for the best love letter to Juliet, or a moment with Juliet’s statue for good fortune. Verona also offers Renaissance gardens, vineyards, boutique hotels, cobblestone streets and countless candle-lit restaurants to further solidify their stake on being the land of lovers.

Where ever you are, whatever your traditions, I hope you have a safe, kind Valentine's Day full of peace and love!

Do you have a fun or different way of celebrating Valentine's Day?  I make FTD his favorite breakfast, Eggs Benedict.

April is an award-winning writer and blogger. Her work has been published in over ten countries and four languages. From books to newspapers, to print/online magazines and everything in between, you can find her work. For more on April, Visit