Learn about other countries' unique traditions.
Valentine's Day is celebrated across the globe. Each country has its own unique traditions and Valentine's Day gifts. As in the United States, Valentine's Day chocolate and Valentine's Day cards seem to play a big part in Valentine's celebrations around the world.
Mexico, Canada, Germany, and Spain
Valentine's Day is much like the U.S. holiday. Couples exchange gifts and go out on dinner dates. In Mexico, Valentine's Day is known as "Día de San Valentín " or more commonly "Día del amor y la amistad" meaning day of love and friendship.
Japan and Korea
Women give store-bought chocolates to acquaintances, and homemade chocolates to love interests. Men who receive the chocolates reciprocate these gifts to their love interests on White Day, March 14. Koreans take the celebration further. Men who did not receive chocolates celebrate together on Black Day, April 14, by eating black noodles called Jajangmyun.
Valentine's Day cards are known as "lover's cards" because early cards were transparent and when held up to a light would project a picture of a man handing a woman a gift. Pressed white flowers called Snowdrops are another popular gift to exchange. Men may also send a valentine called a gaekkebrev "joking letter" where a romantic rhyme is written but no name is signed. The signature consists of dots that correlate to the amount of letters in the sender's name. If the woman who received the card guesses the sender, she is rewarded with an egg on Easter.
Valentine's Day is celebrated with a festival. At this festival, there is an equal number of unmarried males and females, each of whom write their name (or a made-up name) on a piece of paper which is then folded and placed into a hat...one hat for the ladies and one for the men. The females then draw a name from the hat containing the men's names and vice versa, it is expected that the male partner with the female who selected his name. This rite having been completed, the company split up into couples and gifts are given to the ladies.
There are two Valentine's Day celebrations. One is observed on February 14 and the other on July 7. It is customary to exchange roses on these days with the color and the amount of roses dictating the message. One rose means "only love," eleven roses means "a favorite," ninety-nine roses means "forever," and one hundred and eight roses means "marry me."