Days of wine and roses

By Patti Pietschmann, Travel Diva and incurable romantic

Valentine's Day around the world

You know how to celebrate the most romantic day of the year in the US, right? Of course you do. You ply your lover with chocolates, roses, fancy dinners, sensual pleasures and promises of dreamy getaways. It doesn’t always happen on Feb. 14 in other countries but still celebrates lovers.

Cupid’s corners of the world


The French need little excuse for romance, especially in gay Paree, the city of lights.  They celebrate “Saint Valentin” by dining on  foie gras and rich tortes while sipping Champagne and fine wines.  French display their love with all the typical gifts.

In a Latin heart beat

In most Latin America  Valentine’s Day is known as Día de los Enamorados (day of lovers) or as Día del Amor y la Amistad (Day of Love and Friendship). It is also common to see people perform “acts of appreciation” for their friends. In Guatemala, Valentine’s Day is “Día del Cariño” (Affection Day). Some countries such as Dominican Republic and El Salvador  have a tradition called Amigo secreto (“Secret friend”), which is a game similar to the Christmas ritual of the Secret Santa.

That’s  amore

In Italy Valentine’s Day turns into a Spring Festival celebration. People take to the outdoors. They fill the parks and gardens, and listen to music.  Couples also follow a unique  tradition of padlocking their love to a bridge or railing, and throwing the key away.

In Verona, Italy, the city of Romeo and Juliet, a four-day Valentine’s celebration takes place with  heart lanterns lining the city and free concerts in the Piazza dei Signori. There is also a love-letter writing contest and romantic dinner specials in restaurants around town.

 Brazilian style

Brazil honors the Dia dos Namorados (lit. “Lovers’ Day”, or “Boyfriends’/Girlfriends’ Day”) on June 12 which is the day before Saint Anthony‘s day (the marriage saint)/ The tradition is that many single women perform popular rituals, called simpatias, in order to find a good husband or boyfriend.

Like in the US, couples exchange gifts, chocolates, cards, and flower bouquets.


Honolulu Cookie Company

Valentine’s Day gift ideas

In Chinese, the Qixi Festival takes place on the seventh day of the seventh month of the lunar calendar. It commemorates a day on which a legendary cowherder and weaving maid may  be together.


Valentine’s Day in Japan  allows women only to give chocolates to men. Female office works give the candy  co-workers. Unlike western countries, gifts such as greeting cards,[130] candies, flowers, or dinner dates[131] are uncommon, and most of the gifts-related activity is about giving the right amount of chocolate to each person.[130] Japanese chocolate companies make half their annual sales during this time of the year.[130]


In the Philippines version of  Valentine’s Day is Araw ng mga Puso. Celebrations resemble those of the West with  red roses taking a starring role.

United Kingdom

A little less than half of the population in the UK invest in Valentine’s Day gifts of cards, flowers, chocolates.

In Wales, some people celebrate Dydd Santes Dwynwen (St. Dwynwen’s Day) on January 25 instead of (or as well as) Valentine’s Day. The day commemorates St Dwynwen, the Welsh patron saint of love.[158] The Welsh name for Saint Valentine is Sant Ffolant.

The love of  the Irish

On Saint Valentine’s Day in Ireland, many seek true love with a Christian pilgrimage to the Shrine of St. Valentine in Whitefriar Street Carmelite Church in Dublin.

 Finland and Estonia

In Finlandls Valentine’s Day,  ystävänpäivä  (don’t ask me how to pronounce it)  translates into “Friend’s Day”. As the name indicates, this day is more about friendships than lovers.

 Going Greek

St. Valentine’s Day, or Ημέρα του Αγίου Βαλεντίνου in Greek tradition was not always  associated with romantic love. But in the late 1990’s ] contemporary Greece began celebrating it in Western style.

 Portugal partners

In Portugal, “Dia dos Namorados” (Lover’s Day / Day of the Enamoured) takes place. It includes the usual gift exchanges. In some regions, women give a lenço de namorados (“lovers’ handkerchief”), which contains elaborate embroidery of love sentiments.

Scandinavian sensuality

In Denmark and Norway, February 14 is known as Valentinsdag, and it is celebrated in much the same manner as in the United Kingdom.[170] In Sweden it is called Alla hjärtans dag (“All Hearts’ Day”) and is not widely celebrated. A 2016 survey revealed that less than 50% of men and women were planning to buy presents for their partners.[171] The holiday has only been observed since the 1960s.[170]

 Spanish style

In Spain, Valentine’s Day, “San Valentín”  follows the usual traditions of the rest of the West.

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