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Celebrating Valentine’s Day: Meaningful Traditions from Around the World

Valentine’s Day is celebrated worldwide on February 14th. Although it is primarily associated with romantic love, it’s also a day to express affection to family members, friends, and anyone else you care about.

Valentines Day has many customs and traditions attached to it that carry unique meanings, symbolic significance, and stories of their own. In this article, we’ll explore several Valentine’s Day traditions around the world and how commercialization has changed the holiday’s meaning in the United States.

Valentine’s Day Traditions Around the World



Denmark, Valentine’s Day is not the only holiday that celebrates love and affection. Danish people begin their Valentine’s Day celebration with a unique custom known as gaekkebrev, which literally means joking letter.

It is a playful anonymous letter, usually sent from a secret admirer, in which the sender will leave a clue to their identity, but only on the last letter of their name. If the receiver guesses correctly, they get an Easter egg as a reward.

It’s a fun way to create a sense of mystery and challenge around the holiday.

South Korea

South Korea has three Valentine’s Day-like holidays. February 14th is the day for women to give chocolate to men.

One month later, on March 14th, men return the favor by giving candy or flowers to women on White Day. Finally, on April 14th, single people celebrate Black Day by eating jajangmyeon, a dish of noodles with black bean sauce, and commiserating with other singles about their relationship status.

The holidays show appreciation and affection and provide a sense of community among single people.


Wales celebrates their own Saint of Love, St. Dwynwen, on January 25th. People exchange hand-carved love spoons to show their affection and to express their commitment.

These spoons are adorned with various symbols, like keys to signify the key to a partner’s heart, or Celtic knots representing eternal love. This tradition highlights the importance of craftsmanship, creativity, and skill.



China, a tradition known as Qixi or Double Seventh Festival is observed. It is based on a folklore story about two lovers, Niulang and Zhinu, who were separated and only allowed to meet once a year on the seventh day of the seventh lunar month.

People believe that if they go to a temple and pray on this day, it will bring them good fortune and happiness. In recent years, people have been writing love messages on colorful sticky notes and attaching them to tree branches, symbolizing their love that is growing strong and healthy like the branches of a tree.

South Africa


South Africa, Valentine’s Day is a day of loud declarations of love. People wear their hearts on their sleeves, or more accurately, on their shirts.

They write love messages, letters, and poems to their significant others and attach them to their clothes, bags, or cars as a public display of affection. Furthermore, people often return home after work to find gifts and flowers that were left in secret by secret admirers.

This tradition emphasizes the importance of openness and romantic gestures in a relationship. Commercialization of Valentine’s Day in the United States

Valentine’s Day in the United States has become a highly commercialized holiday.

It is a day when stores fill their shelves with chocolates, pink teddy bears, heart-shaped things, and all things love-related leading up to the holiday. In 2020, the National Retail Federation estimated that Americans would spend roughly $27.4 billion for Valentine’s Day, including gifts, cards, and treats.

One of the reasons for this commercialization is that it fits into the consumerist nature of American society. In modern Western society, almost every significant holiday has been commercialized.

From Halloween to Christmas, we’ve been taught that spending money is necessary to express our appreciation for those we care about. Additionally, stores create an artificial demand by marking up the prices before the holiday.

It creates a sense of urgency to buy, which leads to even more spending. However, the commercialization of Valentine’s Day obscures the original intent of the holiday, which is to celebrate love and affection.

Many people feel pressured to buy expensive gifts or make grand gestures when what counts more is the love and care shown not only on Valentine’s Day but every day. The holiday has also been observed as excluding those who may not have a romantic partner, as if love is only valid if it’s occurring in a romantic relationship.

Final Thoughts

Valentine’s Day is an occasion to celebrate love and affection around the world. Each culture has its unique way of showcasing the importance of love and relationships.

However, commercialization has led to a change in the way Valentine’s Day is celebrated in America. It can be easy to forget that the true meaning of the holiday is to show appreciation and affection to the people we care about.

Whether you’re in a relationship or not, expressing love and care to those important to you is something that can be done 365 days a year, not just on Valentine’s Day. Valentine’s Day is a day to celebrate the expression of love and affection for the people that matter in our lives.

While the modern-day celebrations have become commercialized and centered around gift-giving, it’s still possible to celebrate the day in a meaningful way without breaking the bank. In this article, we’ll explore meaningful Valentine’s Day celebrations from around the world, including


South Korea,


China, and

South Africa.


Denmark’s Valentine’s Day celebration is all about creativity and being cash-free. Rather than buying expensive gifts or chocolates, Danes embrace the tradition of writing romantic poems or love notes to their significant other.

These handwritten notes are often accompanied by a single white flower called a snowdrop which represents hope and is the first flower of the new year. It’s a lovely way to show your love and creativity, rather than relying on buying a present.

South Korea


South Korea, Valentine’s Day is not only limited to couples celebrating their love. It’s also an opportunity to show appreciation and gratitude to friends and family members.

People exchange small tokens like candy, flowers, or handwritten letters to acknowledge and appreciate the people in their lives. The day also celebrates tradition and culture, which makes it even more meaningful.

By prioritizing spending time with loved ones,

South Koreans promote the value of relationships and sitting together, rather than just exchanging material goods.


Wales has a long-standing tradition of exchanging hand-carved wooden love spoons on Valentine’s Day. The spoons are adorned with various symbols and patterns that hold different meanings.

One of the most popular symbols is the Welsh love knot, which represents an unbreakable bond. Each spoon is unique and represents originality, craftsmanship, and a meaningful gift from the heart.

By putting the time and effort into carving a love spoon, Welsh people show their significant other that they are valued and cared for.



China, Valentine’s Day is known as the Qixi festival, also known as the Chinese Valentine’s Day. It is based on a traditional Chinese folklore story about two lovers separated by the Heavenly River.

As a result of their love and devotion, magpies formed a bridge across the river, reuniting the lovers. The celestial romance celebration has been observed for over 2,000 years and is celebrated by wearing traditional clothes, dcor, and star-gazing.

By keeping the tradition alive, people honor their heritage and culture by celebrating love in a thoughtful, symbolic way.

South Africa


South Africa, Valentine’s Day is a day of literal interpretation when it comes to wearing ones heart on their sleeve. It’s a time when people decorate their clothes, bags, or vehicles with love messages, letters, and hearts as a public display of affection.

The day is also characterized by secret admirers who leave anonymous gifts or notes to the people they secretly admire. It promotes the idea of taking chances and expressing emotions, even if you don’t know the outcome.

By expressing one’s feelings, it fosters a culture of honesty, authenticity, and genuine connection among family, friends, and acquaintances.

Final Thoughts

Valentine’s Day is a global celebration of love and affection, and every culture has its own unique way of expressing it. Whether it’s in the form of wooden spoons, love notes, celestial romance, small tokens, or hearts-on-sleeves, the meaningful expressions of love all have one thing in common: authenticity.

On Valentine’s Day, it’s essential to celebrate love and show appreciation to the people who matter in our lives, not just by buying materialistic gifts, but by sharing time, affection, and creativity. By embracing meaningful Valentine’s Day celebrations, you can create memories that last a lifetime and strengthen your relationships year-round.

Valentine’s Day is celebrated worldwide as a day to express love and affection. Meaningful Valentine’s Day celebrations vary from country to country, and each culture has unique traditions to express their love.

A cash-free creative approach using paper and pen in

Denmark, a celebration of appreciation and small tokens in

South Korea, the thoughtful gift of a hand-carved love spoon in


China’s traditional Qixi festival celebration, and

South Africa’s literal interpretation of wearing one’s heart on one’s sleeve all show the many ways people express their genuine affection worldwide. It’s important to celebrate love and show appreciation for the significant people in our lives, year-round, not just on Valentines Day.

By prioritizing creativity, thoughtfulness, authenticity and genuine connection, we can create deep and lasting relationships that will endure the test of time.

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