8 Valentine’s Day traditions from around the world

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In Japan, women are expected to give chocolate to their boyfriends and husbands on Valentine’s Day.

YOSHIKAZU TSUNO/AFP via Getty Images

valentines day 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, see great food giftsthat best v-day chocolates and a guide being single on valentine’s day.

The Phillipines

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.

Manila Philippines Mass Wedding

A couple takes a selfie as they attend a mass Valentine’s Day wedding ceremony in Manila on February 14, 2020.

Rouelle Umali/Xinhua via Getty

“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.”

Ghana

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.

Italy

baci perugina

Baci Perugina are given away on Valentine’s Day. The shell of chocolate-covered hazelnuts contains a romantic or affirmative message.

Baci Perugina

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.

A padlocked wall in Juliet's house during the Verona in Love festival in Italy

A padlocked wall at Juliet’s house during the Verona in Love festival on February 14, 2017.

Awakening/Getty Images

South Africa

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.

ROBBEN ISLAND, SOUTH AFRICA Mass wedding

More than two dozen couples attend a mass wedding ceremony on Robben Island near Cape Town, South Africa on Valentine’s Day 2010.

Photo24/Gallo Images/Getty Images

On Robben Island, north of Cape Town, dozens of couples exchange vows during a mass Valentine’s Day wedding ceremony each year.

Japan

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”).

Woman buys sublime ruby ​​red Kit Kats in Tokyo.

A woman buys sublime ruby ​​red Kit Kats as Giri-Choco at a Tokyo chocolate shop.

BEHROUZ MEHRI/AFP via Getty Images

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.

Romania

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.

Drago beet

A pedestrian dances with a Romanian woman during the Dragobete celebration in Bucharest.

DANIEL MIHAILESCU/AFP via Getty Images

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

Denmark

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.

Wooden love haunted Wales

A pair of Welsh wooden love spoons.

Nacho Mena

Wales

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.

Continue reading: Valentine’s Day gifts for the man in your life

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