Valentine's Day 2024: Unusual customs from around the world

Valentine's Day customs from around the world include Finland's Friendship Day, Spain's celebration of Saint Dionysus, and Japan's White Day.

Valentine's Day 2024: Unusual customs from around the world

VALENTINE'S Day is just around the corner! In most parts of the world, 14 February is celebrated as the day of love. On this day, people indulge in gifting, a custom that helped make Valentine's Day the commercial holiday. Each nation has its own way of celebrating this day of love.

Let's take a look at some of the unique Valentine's Day customs from around the world.


Finland celebrates Ystävänpäivä (pronounced YOUS-ta-van-PIE-vah), which roughly translates to “Friendship Day," on February 14 every year. Fins take the opportunity to shower their loved one- friends, family, partners--with tiny gifts and memories.


Spain celebrates San Valentín, or Saint Valentine's Day, on February 14. Some believe that October 9 is the real day to celebrate love, as Valencians and other Spaniards honour Saint Dionysus, widely considered the patron saint of love. In some parts of Spain, October 9 is celebrated with parades, festivals and other events. In a ceremony known as Mocaorà, men traditionally present their partners with silk scarves or handkerchiefs decorated with marzipan.


Women in Japan are expected to spend big on Valentine's Day, gifting their partners jewellery and chocolates. But the gift-giving doesn't stop there. A month after Valentine's Day, on March 14, Japan also celebrates a holiday known as White Day, when men who have received gifts from women are expected to return the favour. Gifts for White Day customs range from lingerie to sweets, jewellery and white chocolate.

Denmark, Norway

In Denmark and Norway, Lover's cards, which can be sentimental or humorous, are exchanged between friends and relatives. Some people even write an anonymous joke letter, known as a "gaekkebrev", in which the signature is made up entirely of dots. The letter contains a short poem or message along with elaborate paper cut-outs. The recipient of the gaekkebrev, or "snowdrop letter", is entitled to an Easter egg if they correctly guess who sent it. 


While there are many ways to spend Valentine's Day in England, listening to adorable children sing is one of the most popular. Little singers are rewarded with sweets, fruit or money. To celebrate a plentiful harvest, some people even exchange Valentine's buns, often called 'plum shuttles', which are made with raisins, plums or caraway seeds.


The celebration of 14 February in Phillipines sees thousands of couples celebrate their wedding anniversary. Recent years have also witnessed “mass weddings" on 14 February Valentine's Day.


German couples exchange pig-shaped gifts for Valentine's Day. It is customary to give and receive stuffed animals, statues and other items with pigs on them, as it is said that the pig represents both lust and love. Germans also indulge in a healthy exchange of ginger biscuits iced with sentimental inscriptions.


Mexico, on 14 February, celebrates "El Día del Amor y Amistad", or "The Day of Love and Friendship", a inclusive celebration, regardless of relationship status. The day is marked with flowers, cards, stuffed animals and other gifts.

South Africa

In South Africa, Valentine's Day is really celebrated on February 15 in observance of the Roman festival Lupercalia, therefore there won't be many secret admirers on that day. This is because certain women physically wear their hearts on their sleeves. Specifically, these women will write the name of the person they are in love with on a piece of paper and pin it to their sleeve. 

South Korea

Valentine's Day in South Korea is a monthly affair, on 14 February partners exchange chocolates and gifts among themselves. On 14 March, South Korea celebrates White Day, similar to the one celebrated in Japan. On 14 April, singles also get their day-- Black Day-- when single people enjoy a bowl of "jjajangmyeon", noodles with a black bean sauce while brooding over (or celebrating?) their single status.