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Localization Insights

How Valentine’s Day is Celebrated Around the World

Usually celebrated on February 14, Valentine’s Day is all about love, and flowers, cards, and gifts are often shared. The exact origins of this spring festival are lost in the mists of time, but it’s probably a combination of different events such as the Ancient Roman spring festival of Lupercalia and the martyring in the name of love of a saint called Valentinus. What is certain, is that by the 15th century, Valentine’s Day was widely recognized as a day of love and romance. We’re going to take a romantic whirl around the world to see how it is celebrated in 10 different countries.

1. The Philippines: A Day for Gala Weddings

Getting married is always an expensive occasion, so the government lends a helping hand on Valentine’s Day in the Philippines. Every year on February 14, young couples tie the knot in huge public ceremonies witnessed by friends, colleagues, neighbors, and anyone who happens to be passing by. Without this government sponsorship, many of these couples would be unable to afford the romance of a white wedding.

2. Ghana: National Chocolate Day

While in many countries such as the US and the UK, chocolates are given as Valentine’s Day gifts, in Ghana they go a step further. In 2007, the Ghanaian government decided to name February 14 as “National Chocolate Day” as a way of increasing tourism. Ghana is one of the world’s biggest producers of cocoa, so the chocolate is sure to be excellent. On Valentine’s Day, lovers can enjoy chocolate-themed music events, performances, and restaurant meals.

3. Bulgaria: Raise a Glass to Love

As with many other countries, Bulgaria brings its own taste to Valentine’s Day. As well as being a special time for lovers, February 14 is also the day of San Trifon Zartan, the patron saint of winemakers. What better way is there to celebrate your love than by sharing a glass or two of excellent local wine such as an Orbelus Chardonnay.

4. Norway: Snowdrops and Poems

The Norwegian tradition of “Gaekkebrev” or “joke letters” originated in the 18th century. Lovers pen a poem to someone they secretly admire before cutting the paper it’s written on into an intricate pattern. They then press a delicate snowdrop bud into it. The poem is signed with one dot for each letter in the writer’s name, leaving the lucky recipient to work out who their admirer is.

5. Romania: Committed to Love

In Romania, we jump forward a couple of weeks as Valentine’s Day is celebrated along with the start of spring on February 24. This is the day when young Romanian couples traditionally get engaged. They celebrate their union by heading into the forests to either wash their faces with snow (a symbol of good luck) or pick colorful spring flowers to make into bouquets of love.

6. Estonia: A Celebration of Friendship and Love

In Estonia, February 14 is when “Sobrapaev” is celebrated. This is an inclusive day of friendship that embraces not only couples, but their families and friends as well. Everybody exchanges gifts and cards carrying the greeting, “Happy Friends Day”. A newer tradition in Estonia is Love Buses, where singles can hitch a ride in the hope of meeting someone special.

7. Japan: Turning Tradition On its Head

While it is traditional for men to woo women with gifts on Valentine’s Day, in Japan it is the women who buy gifts for the men in their lives. A typical gift for someone you truly love is high-quality homemade chocolate, while shop-bought chocolate is acceptable for colleagues and friends. A month later, on “White Day”, men reciprocate by giving white chocolate or other white gifts in return.

8. The United Kingdom: Old Traditions

Valentine’s Day has been celebrated for centuries in the United Kingdom. Once upon a time, women used to put bay leaves on their bedtime pillows in the hope of dreaming about their future husbands. Since Victorian times it has been traditional to send an anonymous card decorated with red hearts to someone you want to know better and maybe even marry. Established couples usually give a gift of a dozen red roses.

9. Slovenia: Barefoot in the Snow

St. Valentine is the Slovenian saint of Spring, and February 14 is the day when the first shoots of spring flowers start to appear in the fields. It is also the day birds “propose” to each other. To witness the birds and flowers, and maybe make and receive a proposal of marriage, lovers traditionally (and bravely) walk barefoot through the frozen fields.

10. South Africa: Advertizing Your Love

Valentine’s Day in South Africa is based on the pagan festival of Lupercalia. There’s nothing as subtle as anonymous cards here. Instead, young lovers pin the name of someone they fancy on their sleeve. Couples new and old celebrate with flowers, chocolate, and romantic meals.

These are just a few examples of how Valentine’s Day is celebrated around the world, either on February 14 or in the following weeks. It is traditionally a time when people want to express their love in ways traditional to their country and culture.

Where love’s concerned, no expense is spared, and in the lead up to Valentine’s Day, there is a big demand for romantic gifts, flowers, candles, balloons, chocolates, and cards. This creates an excellent opportunity for both physical and eCommerce businesses to boost their sales. Make sure you’re in the mood for love and that your business takes advantage of this tradition by running Valentine’s Day promotions. At BLEND we have a free resource that offers you multilingual ad copy for Valentine’s Day in the world’s top languages while ensuring they are fully localized and culturally appropriate.

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