As February 14th draws nearer, many people are getting ready to express their love through gifts, flowers, and taking their love interest out for a special date. But while Valentine’s Day has grown in popularity internationally, there are many cultures who celebrate this holiday differently, or have their own unique festival days for showing love.
Worldwide Celebrations of Love
In Wales, people express their love on St. Dwynwen’s Day, which is observed on January 25th. St. Dwynwen was a 4th century Welsh princess who is now regarded as the patron saint of both lovers and animals in Wales. Traditionally, lovers will gift each other beautiful, handcrafted “lovespoons,” but these days cards, chocolate, or other gifts are acceptable as well.
In Argentina, there is not just one day for love, but an entire week! Celebrated during the first week of July, Sweetness Week began as an advertising campaign for a candy company in the 1980s, but the idea caught on and is now recognized as a holiday. During the week, people give gifts of candy to their loved ones in exchange for kisses, and restaurants become filled to capacity with romantic dates. Argentinians see the holiday not just as an opportunity to give each other sweet gifts, but as a time to be kind and generous to others.
South Korea, however, has managed to kick things up a notch. A culture obsessed over anything cute or romantic, many young people now celebrate 12 different off-calendar holidays on the 14th of every month. In addition to Valentine’s Day on February 14th, there’s Calendar Day on January 14th, when couples and friends exchange blank calendars; Kiss Day on June 14th; and Green Day on August 14th, when couples drink soju, a local spirit that traditionally comes in a green bottle, and go for a walk in nature. Even singles get their own day with Black Day on April 14th, when they eat a dish of black noodles and wish for a partner.
Valentine’s Day Done Differently
While Japan does celebrate Valentine’s Day on February 14th, the way they do it is a little different than what you might expect. On Valentine’s Day, it is women who buy chocolates and gifts for their male companions, lovers, or sometimes even coworkers. Then on March 14th, men return the favor on White Day, and give white chocolate or other sweets in return to the women who they received from one month earlier.
Finland and Estonia both have holidays on February 14th as well, but instead of focusing only on romantic love, friendship takes center stage. Friend’s Day, known as Ystävän Päivä in Finnish and Sõbrapäev in Estonian, is celebrated by exchanging cards and gifts and going on outings with your loved ones. Truly no one is left out of this special day, and it can be celebrated among family members, friends, and romantic partners alike.
These are just a handful of different love celebrations from around the world! Which one is your favorite? Tell us in the comments below!