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photo courtesy of IMDb (2024)
Mean Girls
February 26, 2024

How Does the World Express Love? 5 Global Valentine’s Traditions  

Laura Ockel

Valentine’s Day is right around the corner, and there’s so much more to it than just giving chocolates and roses. Across the globe, this day is dedicated to love and is celebrated with a variety of unique and fascinating traditions. Here are 5 extraordinary Valentine’s Day customs from around the world that all showcase a different expression of love. 

Five people walking across a beach during sunset. (Unsplash)

Estonia and Finland:  

Estonia and Finland celebrate Friend’s Day, known as Ystävän Päivä in Finnish and Sõbrapäev in Estonian, as their version of Valentine’s Day. Friend’s Day is enjoyed by everyone, from singles to couples. It’s a time for families, friends, and romantic partners to come together and express their appreciation for one another by giving gifts and doing group activities together.  

A close up of some cookies on a tray. (Unsplash)


Germany is relatively new to celebrating Valentine’s Day, also known as Valentinstag. Although, while they are new to the holiday, Germans celebrate this holiday in very unique ways. One popular tradition is exchanging gingerbread hearts. These are big, heart-shaped cookies decorated with sweet, romantic messages. People also give loved one’s pig-related gifts.  Pig gifts usually come with symbols like four-leaf clovers and hearts, and they’re meant to bring good luck and love.  

A heart shaped box filled with chocolate covered chocolate. (Unsplash)


 For Valentines Day in Japan, women give chocolates not only to their romantic partners but also to male colleagues, family and friends, while men typically do little to nothing. However, Japan also has White Day on March 14th, when men are expected to make up for this with gifts for the women who gave them chocolates. The return gifts on White Day should ideally be 2 to 3 times more valuable than what they received. Failing to give back any gift is seen as a clear rejection, while giving a gift of equivalent value to the chocolate received can be interpreted as a polite way to end the relationship. 

Two wooden spoons on a table from Wales (IStock)


In Wales, Valentine’s Day is celebrated with an old tradition that has been around since the 17th century – the carving and giving of ‘lovespoons’. Men would carve these wooden spoons to show their affection for the women they cared about. Each spoon is intricately designed and takes a lot of skill to make. Nowadays, lovespoons are exchanged as symbols of love and are seen as precious keepsakes that carry on old Welsh traditions.  

Crowd of people watching fireworks display. (Unsplash)

 South Africa 

 Valentine’s Day in South Africa is celebrated with a lot of passion and excitement. The celebrations can last a whole week, with big parties and lively events. A special tradition there is when women pin the names of their loved ones onto their sleeves. This custom comes from an ancient Roman festival and it’s a way for people to openly show their love and affection. The day is filled with joyous celebrations, reflecting the vibrant and open-hearted nature of South African culture. 


As Valentines Day approaches, these different Valentine’s Day traditions from around the world remind us that everyone has their own special way of showing love. It’s important that we acknowledge and respect every culture’s unique customs. Let’s celebrate Valentine’s Day by embracing and appreciating all the different ways people express their love. 

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