10 Sweet Valentine's Day Traditions From Around The World

Love is universal, no matter where you're from.

Last updated on Feb 14, 2024

couple celebrating Valentine's Day Masalskaya via Shutterstock and Montoya98 from Pixabay via Canva

What can we say? Love is a universal theme. But not everyone chooses to celebrate it with roses and boxes of chocolate, and that's true in many parts of the world.

You see, good Valentine's Day ideas are a dime a dozen, but in order to give your partner something truly special, you'll need to understand how to be romantic and take it to another level, like many of these traditions do!

Is Valentine's Day celebrated everywhere around the world?

Yes and no. Valentine's Day is celebrated in many countries around the world, although not always on the same day and not always as "Valentine's Day" specifically.


For instance, in Slovenia, instead of celebrating Saint Valentine, they celebrate Saint Gregory's Day, and they do so on March 12, rather than on February 14.

Many of these festivities honor not just romantic love, but also extend to friendship and family, too, which is great news for single people.

And others, like those done in South Africa and other parts of the world, keep to the true tradition of Lupercalia, which was an ancient pagan festival about love and fertility Valentine's Day stems from.

RELATED: 129 Heart Melting Valentine's Day Quotes For Lovers Everywhere

Countries That Celebrate Valentine's Day

There are a number of countries that celebrate love similar to Valentine's Day, though it may be in a different month or have a different approach than the U.S. version.


Valentine's Day is popular in East Asian countries like South Korea and Singapore, where individuals will spend money on gifts, much like in the U.S.

Countries That Have Banned Valentine's Day

Although Valentine's Day is a joyous celebration for many, there are some countries — like Russia, Saudi Arabia, Iran, and other majority-Muslim countries — that have outlawed the practice altogether.

After doing a little research, we found plenty of traditions we wish we could use in our Valentine's Day plans. Love — not Hallmark — really does make the world go 'round. To celebrate, here's how Valentine's Day is celebrated around the world, especially for singles.

10 Valentine's Day Traditions From Around the World

1. Malaysia

In Malaysia, on the seventh day of the seventh month of the lunar calendar, women write their phone numbers on oranges before throwing them into the closest river with hopes that the man of their dreams will pick one up.


Fruit vendors often collect the oranges, which are considered a lucky fruit, and resell them at the market — phone numbers and all.

Can't you see a romantic comedy flick starting with a guy finding a "call me" orange in his bag of groceries?



2. Brazil

For Brazilians, "Dia dos Namorados" (Day of Lovers) is June 12.


On the eve before the holiday, women write the names of various crushes on folded-up pieces of paper (MASH, anyone?). Whichever name they pick from the pile on the following day will be the one they marry (or at least date).

Other South American countries practice the "Dia del amor y la amistad" (Love and Friendship Day), where people are randomly assigned a partner to whom they give a secret gift — à la Secret Santa.

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3. Scotland

Scotland also has a party game for Valentine's Day. Each single person writes his or her name on a piece of paper, which is then thrown into two hats — one with the men's names and the other with the women's names.


Everyone draws a name, and the couples pair off for the evening. Since it's unlikely that the names will actually match, the man has to stick with the woman who picked his name, regardless of whose name he picked. Interesting.



4. France

France had a curious (now banned) custom called "une loterie d'amour" where single men and women gathered in houses facing each other. They would pair off by yelling out to each other, and if the man didn't like his Valentine in the end, he could desert her in the middle of the day.

At night, the deserted women would make a bonfire together to burn pictures of and curse the men who had scorned them. Eventually, the French government shut down the practice for its maliciousness.


5. South Korea

In South Korea, the 14th day of every month is dedicated to an aspect of love. For example, May is Rose Day, October is Wine Day, and December is Hug Day.

On February 14, women give chocolate to men, and on March 14 (also called "White Day"), men give candy — not chocolate — to women. People who didn't receive anything on either day get together on April 14, AKA Black Day, to eat black bean noodles (jajangmyeon) and lament their singleness. Genius!

The South Korean traditions are pretty similar to those in Japan, where women give men "Honmei choco" or "true feeling chocolate," and men return the favor in March on White Day.



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6. India

Around Valentine's Day, couples in India celebrate Valentine's Week, including Propose Day — a day that, as the name suggests, allows people to propose by presenting roses to their partner of choice. Future husbands and wives can prepare to get the big question that day in a big way!

Happy young man proposing to excited girl with rose during candle light dinnerPhoto: WESTOCK PRODUCTIONS / Shutterstock

This tradition is only one day of a total of seven that take place in the second week of February. Propose Day itself takes place on February 8, but has events both before and after as well, leading up to Valentine's Day itself. These are things such as Rose Day, or Hug Day, which you can easily celebrate with your friends and family.


7. Denmark

Denmark's tradition of Valentine's Day revolves not only just around romance and chocolate, but also a deep-felt appreciation for your friends.

Valentine's itself is a newer festival in Danish tradition, but they celebrate it by having good food, sweets, quality time, and handmade cards for everyone you love. These are accompanied by pressed white flowers called "snowdrops," and can be shared with romantic partners and platonic friends alike!

RELATED: 100 Happy Valentine's Day Quotes For Your Very Best Friends


8. Estonia

Estonia's tradition of Valentine's Day isn't one of romantic love, but rather a celebration of love in all of its forms, especially between friends and family. This day is called "Sõbrapäev" and is a time for couples, singles, friends, and family members to get together and have a good time.

During this celebration, gifts and cards are exchanged, and everyone, no matter how young or old, is included. Handmade and thoughtful gifts abound, and everyone gets to feel loved and special, and they can wear their hearts on their sleeves without worry.

9. Wales

People in Wales celebrate their loving gift exchange on January 25, which is known as Saint Dwynwen's Day. Saint Dwynwen is considered the patron saint of Welsh lovers, and it's said that after she was unsuccessful in love, she went to become a nun and prayed that other people would have more luck than she did.

Instead of giving out the typical flowers and cards, lovers can exchange hand-carved wooden spoons in a tradition that goes back to the 17th century. It's said the spoons represent the "rough and smooth" of married life, and are meant to remind each couple that times are not always one or the other; you must prepare for both.


10. Spain

Spain's love festival falls on October 9, otherwise known as the Feast of Saint Dionysus, which you may recognize as the Greek god of wine, fertility, creativity, and music. He was also called "Bacchus" in ancient Roman times.

This festival is celebrated in many parts of Spain by making "macadora," which are cute little marzipan figures, and giving them to someone special. It's also marked by great food and a colorful, beautiful parade.

So, whether you're celebrating this Valentine's Day as a single person, in a couple, or just with your friends, enjoy some of these amazing cultural aspects of the most loving holiday of the year.

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Denise Ngo is a freelance web writer/editor who specializes in pop culture, fashion, science, faith and relationships.