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Valentine's Customs from Around the World

Over the previous days we've been taking a closer look at the origins of Valentine's Day as well as examining how these origins have evolved into the modern customs we associate with Febuary the 14th. Today we're going to check in with some of our neighbours around the globe to find out how they do Valentine's Day.


Known simply as Saint Valentin, February the 14th in France is celebrated in a pretty much identical manner to other western countries. Romantic Valentine's Flowers, cards and chocolates are standard gifts used to express love on this day.


As you might expect, the Japanese have their own idiosyncractic take on Valentine's Day. It is customary for women to give men gifts on the 14th and not the other way round as is more prevalent in the west. The standard Valentine's gift in Japan is chocolates; gifting cards, flowers or dinner dates is not as widespread as in the west.

Latin America

Known in many Latin American countries as "Dia del mor y la Amistad," Valentine's Day is observed as a celebration of love and friendship. As well as romantic gestures it is not unusual for people to perform "acts of appreciation" for their friends. Countries where this is commonplace include Colombia, Costa Rica, Mexico, Puerto Rico and Ecuador.


Valentine's Day customs throughout much of Spain are comparable to the UK with the 14th of February being designated "San Valentin." This is with the exception of the autonomous community of Catalonia.


In America, it is estimated that around a whopping 190 million Valentine's Day cards are sent per year. The average amount spent on Valentine's Day gifts has continued to increase over recent years from an average of $108 per person in 2010 up to $131 in 2013.


In Taiwan men gift women with chocolate on Valentine's Day. A month later, a celebration known as 'White Day' occurs where women return the favour - a similar tradition also takes place in Japan but with genders reversed.


In Estonia, Valentine's Day is known as sõbrapäev which translates as "Friend's Day." The emphasis is on honouring friendships as opposed to making romantic gestures.


Valentine's Day was not traditionally associated with celebrations of romantic love; this was observed on the 3rd of July in relation to the Saint of people who are in love, Hyacinth of Caeserea. Having said that, customs in contemporary Greece are becoming similar to the rest of the world due to the advent of globalisation.

Whilst the customs and traditions on February 14th vary slightly around the world, the common theme that can be observed throughout is generosity, affection and sharing feelings with others. Whether it is honouring a friendship or expressing passionate love, February 14th gives us all a chance to show that special someone just how much they mean to us.

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