Monday 3 February 2020
Valentine's Day around the world. Photo: ATC Comm Photo / Pexels

February is the month for love, the romantic epicentre of the year for celebrating your feelings for your significant other.

As cultures vary, so do the ways they express their love; not everyone adheres to the traditional romantic criteria set out by the commercial companies cashing in on this special day.

We list down eight unique ways love and Valentine’s Day is celebrated across the glode:


The Japanese take their Valentine’s Day seriously; there’s no skimping on this holiday. It’s the women who give presents in this country, be it chocolates, cookies or other functional items. There are three different types of gifts that women need to prepare for the day – Honmei Choco, Giri Choco and Tomo Choco, which are love chocolates, obligation chocolates and friend chocolates, respectively. On 14 March which is White Day, men are expected to return the gift of chocolate from that woman, except that his gift should be worth three times more than hers.


In contrast to the chocolate and rose-filled events of other countries in celebration of love, the Celts hand out spoons. Not just any spoons though, these special creations of adoration were lovingly carved by men to be gifted to their lovers. Though the earliest lovespoon found in Wales dated back to the 1600s, the tradition likely dates back further than that. The spoons are now crafted for weddings or occasions and given widely as gifts to couples or partners. The designs range from simple heart carvings to elaborate works of art with vines, anchors and even whole fish for some spoons.


It’s all about that special wedding day and that special day is Valentine’s, especially in the Philippines. Mass weddings are commonplace in most districts of this country, but on Valentine’s Day, couples gather to tie the knot and exchange vows in the hundreds. The government knows that many can’t afford to celebrate the day like everyone wants to and thus sponsors the wedding cakes, rings, flowers and even banquets for this day. All the bride and groom have to do is turn up in their finest outfits.


On this romantic day – also known as the Danes do a number of things. Instead of the traditional flower of love, the red rose, they give out beautiful little white flowers called snowdrops, to friends, family and lovers. Along with these flowers, some might send out Gaekkebrev or joke letters, to their crushes. The name of the secret admirer is signed off in dots for the recipient to guess. If they manage to guess who the sender is, then they get an egg on Easter; if not, then the sender (whose identity is made clear) receives an egg from them.

South Korea

This country has too much love to give out so instead of having just one day to honour it, they have 12 days in the year. These days are celebrated on the 14th of every month and a different kind of love or appreciation is observed for each day. One day that does stand out from the others is Black Day on 14 April. It’s a day for all the single ladies and gents that don’t get to join in on the red love of Valentine’s or White Day to enjoy some jjajangmyeon (black sauce noodles) or other black coloured foods to wallow in their single status.


The Chinese celebrate Qixi Festival, meaning “Evening of Sevens”, a day observed on the 7th of the 7th month in the Chinese Lunar Calendar. This festival honours the ancient tale of star-crossed lovers Niulang (a cowherd) and Zhinu (a weaver girl) who were restricted from being with each other by the Goddess of Heaven, Zhinu’s mother. Women would go to the shrine on this day to pray for skills in weaving and at night sit with their needlework and gaze at the star, Vega. In this day and age, most couples just have a nice dinner.


Back in the day, there was something called the loterie d’amour or “love lottery”. Singles on the day would gather into two different houses and the men would shout out the name of the woman they’d like to pick. A rather ineffective method of matchmaking as the men were allowed to reject the woman if she came out and did not meet his expectations. In retaliation to this, the spurned women would create a bonfire where they would hurl insults and incinerate images of the men. It’s no surprise that the French government banned this tradition.


Although the Italians celebrate their love all year round, they do have traditions for the one day a year. An older Valentine’s tradition was for unmarried women to wake up before dawn on the day. They say the early bird catches the worm and the worm in this situation is the man who would be their future husband. It was the belief that the first man she saw on the day would be the man that she should aim to marry within the year. It’s like fishing blind, you never know what you’re gonna get.

This article is an excerpt form UNRESERVED’s Jan/Feb 2020 issue from the article Love Is All Around.