Men & women across the US are swapping Hallmark cards, red roses, boxed chocolates and teddy bears today in celebration of Valentine’s Day. But how does the rest of the world celebrate this love-ly holiday? Here’s a look at a few countries around the world with their own interesting traditions:
The Valentine tradition most likely began during the Middle Ages in France and England. It was recognized that birds began mating in mid-February, so men and women exchanging love letters and romantic tokens around this time was particularly fitting. Couples celebrate Le Valentin by giving each other flowers and sharing romantic dinners. The exchange of Valentine cards is not a common practice in France.
If your German love calls you a schatz on Valentine’s Day, don’t worry, it’s not an insult, you have just been called a treasure! For the increasingly popular Valentinstag, Germans have their own tradition of gifting gingerbread cookies in the shape of a heart to their sweethearts. Cookies typically have a ribbon attached so young men can drape the cookies on the shoulders of their Valentines.
In Guatemala, Dia del Cariños is a celebration of friendship as much as it is a celebration of love.So much so that Valentine’s Day is commonly referred to as the day of amor y amistad, love and friendship. On this day, similarly to the US, Guatemalans exchange flowers, chocolates and cards.
In the city of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, couples can attend Verona in Love.Verona organizes events surrounding the star-crossed lovers’ story. For example, tours retrace the tragic path of this love story, contests are held for the best love letter to Juliet or you can spend some time at the statue of Juliet to bring good fortune.
I thought this was interesting! There’s a trend in the Phillipines of Mass Valentine’s Day marriages where hundreds of couples exchange “I do’s” at the same time. This practice is super popular in the Phillipines, making February 14th a very common wedding anniversary date.
In Catalonia, La Dia de Sant Jordi is celebrated on April 23rd. The legend goes that gentlemen in Spain honor St. George’s romantic gesture of saving a princess from the grasp of an evil dragon. Roses were typically associated with this day, but recently books have been a more customary gift. This began in the 20th century when it was realized that Josep Pla, Miguel Cervantes and William Shakespeare all died on the same day, April 23rd!
Hope you’ve enjoyed learning about Valentine celebrations in other parts of the world! Have a happy Valentine’s Day, wherever your travels may take you!