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Romantic Travel: 15 Destinations with Unique Valentine’s Day Customs

Valentine’s Day is a global celebration of love, and customs vary widely from one culture to another. While some traditions involve exchanging gifts or heartfelt gestures, others include unique rituals that reflect local customs and beliefs. Here are 15 destinations with fascinating Valentine’s Day customs that showcase the diversity of expressions of love around the world:

Key Takeaways

  • Valentine’s Day is a celebration of love in all its diversity
  • In Ghana, Valentine’s Day is more than just a day for couples; it’s an occasion to celebrate cultural heritage and community
  • Danish Valentine’s Day customs are all about playful affection


mexico villadolid streamers

In Mexico, Valentine’s Day is not just about romantic love but also about celebrating friendship. Known as “Dia del Amor y la Amistad” (Day of Love and Friendship), people exchange gifts and cards with friends and loved ones. It’s a day to honor all types of relationships, not just romantic ones.


eiffel tower france

While France is often associated with romance, their Valentine’s Day traditions include a unique custom called “une loterie d’amour” or “drawing for love.” Single people would enter houses facing each other and call out to one another, eventually pairing off. If a man didn’t like his match, he could leave her for another woman.


In Finland, Valentine’s Day is known as “Ystävänpäivä,” which translates to “Friend’s Day.” Rather than focusing solely on romantic love, Finns celebrate all types of friendships by exchanging cards, gifts, and spending time together.


Valentine’s Day in the Philippines is often marked by mass weddings and vow renewal ceremonies. Hundreds of couples gather in public venues to exchange vows and celebrate their love together, making it a day of unity and commitment.


Sunset in Venice italy

In Italy, Valentine’s Day celebrations extend beyond romantic partners to include friends and family. One traditional activity involves young, unmarried girls waking up before dawn to spot their future husbands. Legend has it that the first man they see on Valentine’s Day will become their spouse.


birds brazil pantanal

Brazilians celebrate Valentine’s Day on June 12th, which is known as “Dia dos Namorados” (Lovers’ Day). Instead of celebrating on February 14th, they exchange gifts, chocolates, and flowers to express their love and affection for their partners.


Valentine’s Day in Estonia is called “Sõbrapäev,” meaning “Friend’s Day.” Friends and family exchange gifts and cards, and it’s also common for people to send anonymous messages or cards to their secret crushes.


taiwan building

Valentine’s Day in Taiwan is celebrated on February 14th, but the romantic festivities continue throughout the year. In addition to exchanging gifts and flowers, couples celebrate “Qixi,” the Chinese equivalent of Valentine’s Day, on the seventh day of the seventh lunar month.

South Africa

La Rochelle, Cape Town, South Africa

In South Africa, Valentine’s Day is an opportunity for women to express their feelings by wearing their hearts on their sleeves—literally. Women pin the names of their crushes on their shirtsleeves, often revealing their secret admirers in a playful and lighthearted manner.


jujuy argentina mountains

Argentinians celebrate “Dia de los Enamorados” (Day of Lovers) on February 14th with romantic dinners, gifts, and gestures of affection. But they also have another celebration on July 20th called “Dia del Amigo” (Friend’s Day), where friends exchange cards and gifts.


Nyhavn, København, Denmark

Danish Valentine’s Day customs are all about playful affection. Instead of roses, lovers exchange pressed white flowers called “snowdrops.” But what makes Danish Valentine’s celebrations truly unique is the practice of sending “Gaekkebrev,” or joking letters. These are anonymous love letters, often adorned with intricate paper cut-outs, rhymes, and jokes. If the recipient can guess who sent the letter, they receive an Easter egg later in the year.


Accra, Ghana

In Ghana, Valentine’s Day is more than just a day for couples; it’s an occasion to celebrate cultural heritage and community. The day is marked with vibrant festivals, traditional dances, and colorful parades. It’s not uncommon for Ghanaians to exchange gifts like kente cloth, traditional beads, or handcrafted jewelry as tokens of love and appreciation.

Wales, United Kingdom

castle in wales

 In Wales, Valentine’s Day is not only about romantic love but also celebrates friendship and camaraderie. The Welsh tradition involves exchanging intricately crafted wooden love spoons. These spoons, carved with symbols like hearts, keys, and horseshoes, are given as tokens of affection. Each symbol has a different meaning; for example, a key might symbolize the giver’s heart.


kyoto japan traditional dress

While Valentine’s Day is celebrated in Japan, the customs surrounding it are a bit different. Here, women traditionally give chocolates to men on Valentine’s Day. However, there’s a twist: there are two types of chocolates – “giri-choco” (obligation chocolates) given to male colleagues and friends, and “honmei-choco” (true feeling chocolates) given to romantic interests. A month later, on March 14th, known as White Day, men reciprocate with gifts, usually white chocolates or other sweets, to the women who gave them chocolates on Valentine’s Day.

South Korea

busan south korea

South Korea puts its own spin on Valentine’s Day with an extra emphasis on celebrating love. Similar to Japan, Valentine’s Day is an occasion for women to express their affection through gift-giving, but it doesn’t end there. On April 14th, known as Black Day, those who didn’t receive any gifts on Valentine’s Day or White Day gather to eat “jajangmyeon,” a dish of black bean noodles, as a way to commiserate with each other and celebrate being single.

Final Word

These unique customs from around the world remind us that expressions of love can take many forms and that Valentine’s Day is a celebration of love in all its diversity. Whether you’re exchanging love spoons in Wales or enjoying jajangmyeon in South Korea, the essence of Valentine’s Day remains the same – a day to cherish and celebrate the bonds of love and affection, in all its forms.