A different Valentine’s day?

Filed in No Category by on 14th February 2022 0 Comments • views: 112

 Valentine’s Day is internationally recognised as a day of love and adoration; taking its name from the 3rd Century Roman Saint Valentine, who was arrested and later martyred after conducting marriages in defiance of Emperor Claudius 2nd.

Nowadays western countries celebrate this holiday with outpourings of flowers, chocolate, and teddy bears for their beloved – or their “Valentine” – but other cultures have adapted the 14th February to coincide with their own cultures.


In Denmark, men take Valentine’s Day as a chance to write letters and poems to their loved ones through the tradition of Gækkebreve. These letters are intricately decorated, but not signed. Instead, the writer leaves a series of dots to replace their name, aiming to tease or “drive the reader mad” as they try to guess the sender. All this headache isn’t for nothing, however, as a correct guess of the sender’s name will earn you a chocolate egg!

 This holiday is named after the Snowdrop flower (or Vintergæk) that accompanies the letters.

Danish tradition of Valentines Dah

South Africa

 To “wear one’s heart on their sleeve” is a common expression, used when a person bears their love openly, but young women in South Africa take this motif a set further and pin the name of their crush on their sleeve during 14th February.

 This tradition supposedly had its roots in the Roman festival of Lupercalia, where young women’s names were drawn from a lottery, and they would be paired up with unmarried men. While many of the Roman traditions have fallen away, Lupercalia is still a way for girls and women to send a not-so-subtle hint to their crushes.

Heart on sleeve


 Japanese culture sees a twist on our Western ways. Valentine’s Day in Japan sees primarily men receiving chocolate, and if they are to be wooed, they receive Honmei – expensive, hand-made chocolates that show a man he is truly a subject of a woman’s affections.

 But don’t worry – women don’t just get snubbed every year! Instead, their sentiments are returned on 14th March, or White Day, where the men buy them a present to match- but this time in white.

luxury box of chocolates

Finland/ Estonia

 Finally, if a day of romance isn’t for you, you may feel more at home in Finland and Estonia where February 14th is set aside for Friendship Day. Friendship Day sees the usual Valentine activities of buying gifts and cards and going for fancy meals, but instead it celebrates the platonic love between friends.

 This holiday was first encouraged in school children as western traditions became widespread, but soon spread in popularity and was gladly celebrated by adults. In 2015 Friendship Day was recognised as Finland’s 2nd most popular card giving holiday, with 3 million cards sent between loving friends.

So those are just some of the ways people celebrate their loved ones all around the world. Let us know what your plans are for the 14th, we always love hearing from you!

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