Valentine's Day Around The World

The customs associated with Valentine’s Day differ from place to place and from nation to nation, with many countries even celebrating “love” at a different time of year and some rituals are truly fascinating and unusual. The "rules" of etiquette are observed in their own unique ways all over the world.

Here are a few interesting customs from 5 countries around the world that share the celebration on February 14th, starting (of course) with the country currently hosting the winter olympics.

Korea – Traditionally it's the women who give the men a gift of chocolates, candies or sometimes even flowers. The custom dictates that the men will reciprocate with chocolates on March 14th, an occasion known as White Day. Koreans don't forget about singletons though, as April 14th is set aside for those who are not in any relationship. Given the name Black Day, they can to come together and console themselves by eating black (Jajang) noodles.

Japan – A similar custom to Korea takes place in Japan when the women give a gift of chocolate “Honmei Choco” to show romantic affection for the man in their lives. They will also offer a different type of chocolate to friends and colleagues, known as “Giri Choco”. When White Day comes around on March 14th, the women will wait in anticipation to receive their own gift of chocolates.

Finland - Actually known as 'Friend’s Day' (Ystävänpäivä), February 14th is a day of special meaning when close friends send cards and gifts to each other as a token of their appreciation and friendship. Typical celebrations take place over brunch or dinner. Although it’s becoming more commonplace to make declarations of love, this day is first and foremost about friendship.

Philippines – February 14th has become a true celebration of love and is a popular day for mass weddings. Couples who cannot afford a wedding are able to get married with the help of the government and other sponsors. According to Lordase Sajonas, a municipal civil registrar, the municipality sets aside a budget for this each year, “The mayor and other sponsors take care of all the expenses because the high cost of weddings is a major obstacle for so many couples. With this public service, couples just have to register ahead of time and show up on their wedding day… so having your wedding day on Valentine’s Day is a double celebration of love, at least that’s what many couples feel”.

Italy - The celebration of love in this romantic country is usually done with gift-giving and romantic dinners (as in many European countries). A traditional favourite chocolate is Baci Perugina. These delicious chocolate-covered hazelnuts come wrapped in their own love note!

So traditions may vary, but the feeling around the world on Valentine's Day is the same... share some love :) 

Julia Esteve

The Etiquette Consultant