If you thought Valentine’s Day needed to be celebrated with a box of chocolates and some red roses, it’s time to take a trip around the world. It’s not always about the candlelit dinners and elaborate gifts! Whether you’re stumped for ideas or just want to do something different this Valentine’s Day, treat your sweetheart to one of these international V-Day traditions.
Valentine’s Day is a strictly adults-only event in Germany, where it’s considered a bit too ‘mature’ for children’s classrooms. Here, you won’t find as many heart-shaped objects dominating the V-Day landscapes, but you’ll find plenty of pigs! A symbol of luck and lust in Germany, couples will swap anything from pig figurines to pictures and pig-shaped chocolates. If you do see love hearts, it’ll often be in the form of ginger cookies with love notes written in icing. Yum!
Valentine’s Day is new on the Danish scene, only popularly celebrated in the country since the 1990s. Still, Denmark has already given their own unique twist on the holiday. Instead of the typical red roses associated with V-Day, Danish couples and friends will exchange pressed white flowers, known as snowdrops. On top of that, men will write funny poems or letters known as gaekkebrev, signing them with anonymous dots instead of their names. If a woman can correctly guess who sent her gaekkebrev, then she’ll receive an easter egg from him later that year.
South Korea has turned Valentine’s Day into an extended holiday that gives both the males and the females a chance to be the centre of attention. On February 14th, it’s the women who are wooing the men, gifting them with chocolates, lollies, and flowers. A month later, on March 14th, the country celebrates White Day, when it’s the men’s turns to show some love. Lucky ladies will get more than just flowers and chocolates, but a nice gift as well. Those who aren’t in a relationship in South Korea can wait until Black Day on April 14th, when singles will mourn their loneliness with a bowl of black noodles.
Saint Valentine? No thank you! The Welsh prefer to celebrate Saint Dwynwen, their own patron saint of lovers. Since the 17th century, the Welsh have been celebrating their loved ones on January 25th. Here, you don’t get chocolates or lingerie or fancy dinners. Nope, Welsh men would traditionally carve wooden spoons for their sweethearts. These wooden spoons would have intricate patterns and symbols like horseshoes (for good luck) and keys (symbolising the key to a man’s heart). Sweet! We’d love to get a wooden spoon here at CHEFIN…
Another country that likes to do their own thing, Brazilians celebrate Dia dos Namorados (Lover’s Day) on June 12th. This isn’t a day just for couples though, Brazilians celebrate with all of their loved ones, exchanging gifts, sharing dinners, and partying (as they do). Numerous festivals and performances are held throughout the country in celebration, and the day after, single women will celebrate Saint Anthony’s Day after the patron saint of marriage. On this day, lonely Brazilian ladies will perform specific rituals known as simpatias, hoping that Saint Anthony will help lure in a husband.
In Japan, Valentine’s Day is all about the chocolate, and specific types of chocolate, too. Women are in charge of delivering the chocolates on February 14th, and they’ll typically give them to more than just their loved ones. There are three tiers of chocolate for the men in a Japanese woman’s life.
They’ll deliver high quality (and usually handmade) chocolates to their boyfriends, husbands, and crushes, called honmei-choco (true feeling chocolate). Male colleagues and friends will receive a cheaper brand of chocolate, known as giri-choco (obligation chocolate). Finally, unpopular men might receive an even lower quality chocolate known as choco-giri choco (ultra obligation chocolate).
Yikes! Japan also celebrates White Day on March 14th, giving men the chance to spoil their ladies with gifts valued double or triple their chocolates.
Finland & Estonia
Why stop at just lovers? Finland and Estonia celebrate their own version of Valentine’s Day on February 14th, where it’s known as Friend’s Day. This holiday is all about celebrating friendships in any form, and people will exchange both gifts and cards to their acquaintances and close ones. You won’t hear the words Valentine’s Day or Lover’s Day thrown around, it’s always about friends and friendships. Could lead to a lot of misunderstandings amongst crushes, we think!
Want a Valentine’s Dinner that’s interactive, romantic, and different all at the same time? Check out our dining experiences to treat your sweet to something unique.