is just around the corner. And while chocolates, candy, and Valentine’s Day cards are pretty universal, the holiday has amassed some unique traditions around the world.
Find out more about Japan’s ‘true feeling’ chocolates, mass weddings in South Africa, Denmark’s ‘love spoons’ and other ways of celebrating the romantic holiday.
For more information, seethat and a guide .
In cities across the country, thousands of couples are taking part in mass weddings taking place on February 14. Almost everything – from the wedding banquet to the venue and sometimes even the gifts – is covered by the local government.
“It feels good to see how couples who have been living together for years but cannot afford even the simplest wedding ceremony are finally getting married with the help of the city government and other sponsors,” said Lordase Sajonas, Pangasinan City Registrar. about 125 miles north of Manila, Pacific Daily News said in 2017.
“Some of them have been living together for years and already have children, but cannot submit the necessary parenting documents to their children’s school because they do not have a marriage certificate. Also, the cost of a wedding is so high.”
The world’s second largest cocoa producer, Ghana, declared February 14 as National Chocolate Day in 2005 to boost tourism and local chocolate consumption.
The initiative was also intended to discourage young people from having sex by channeling their romantic energy into a chocolate gift. The goal is to “minimize the social vices associated with celebrating Valentine’s Day,” Tourism Minister Barbara Oteng Gyasi said in 2020.
Chocolate also features in the traditions of Valentine’s Day in Italy, where lovers exchange baci perugina – small, chocolate-covered hazelnuts with romantic quotes printed on their packaging in different languages. (“Bacio” is the Italian word for kiss.)
In Italy, keys can also be given on Valentine’s Day – as a symbol of an invitation to open the heart of the giver.
Verona, where Shakespeare set Romeo and Juliet to music, is hosting a four-day romantic festival to celebrate Valentine’s Day. Lovers cover walls and fences around Juliet’s balcony with small red or pink padlocks.
In South Africa, it is customary for women to pin their crush’s name on the sleeve of their shirt in February. The tradition is believed to be a modern adaptation of the ancient Roman rite of Lupercalia, in which animal sacrifices and naked men chased women in the streets.
On Robben Island, north of Cape Town, dozens of couples exchange vows during a mass Valentine’s Day wedding ceremony each year.
In Japan, women give chocolates and flowers to men on February 14th. Husbands, boyfriends or potential partners get high-end Honmei (“true feeling”) chocolates, while acquaintances and co-workers get simpler Giri chocolates (“Mandatory chocolates”).
A month later, on March 14 — or White Day — men who received Honmei chocolate are expected to return the favor with a gift worth at least two or three times what their lady bought for chocolate spent.
In Romania, February 25th is known as Dragobete, after the Romanian god of love: women collect snow and melt it and wash their face with the water to have beautiful skin all year round.
Young men and women meet in front of the church in their best clothes and go into the forest to collect flowers or herbs for incantations.
Before lunch, the boys are supposed to chase the girls and, if a suitor catches a girl, steal a kiss.
A Dragobete superstition holds that stepping over a partner’s foot will result in them taking the dominant role in the relationship
In Denmark, lovers and friends exchange white flowers called snowdrops.
Men also write “gaekkebrev” – elaborate paper-cut notes with a humorous message, signed only with a series of anonymous dots. When his lover finds out who sent her a “prank card,” she’ll earn an Easter egg later in the spring.
Lovers in Wales have traded handcrafted wooden spoons for more than 400 years on January 25: On St Dwynwen’s Day – named after the Welsh patron saint of lovers – young men present the young ladies who are courting them with ‘love spoons’ which they have carved themselves to have .
“If they were accepted, they were taken as a sign of engagement or commitment,” woodcarver Kerry Thomas told CBS News.