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All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt. Photo: Shutterstock
All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt. Photo: Shutterstock


Celebrate love around the world

Rampant commercialism or a chance to celebrate love? Whether you’re a believer or not, St. Valentine’s Day traditions differ from country to country. Here’s what to expect.


In the 18th century, unmarried women used to place five bay leaves on their pillow, one in each corner and one in the middle. They would then dream of their future husband.


Celebrating Valentine’s Day is a relatively new thing here, with sugared jelly hearts in heart-shaped boxes being the norm. High school students buy roses for one another, or send little cards.


As in Sweden, St. Valentine’s Day here is new and marked by cards, chocolate, flowers, and even lingerie. Postcards are also increasingly be sent to loved ones.


Since the 1930s, women have marked Valentine’s Day by giving chocolates to the men they live and work with. During the 1970s, chocolates with special meanings were launched. Today, you can buy anything from your basic obligatory chocolate to chocolates that declare undying love. Men return the compliment on March 14, giving gifts to women on what is known as “White Day.”


The country that takes traditions to the max. There’s nothing here that can’t be given a makeover in roses or hearts. Established couples celebrate their union with a visit to a restaurant or a night in a hotel. Those who are pining for someone but don’t dare to show their hand can send flowers or a card anonymously.


Here they celebrate St. Dwynwen’s Day on January 25 to honor the Welsh patron saint of lovers. Dwynwen fell in love with a man but, after various supernatural events, ended up as a nun. On January 25, men give a spoon to the one they love. Traditionally the spoon is handcarved.


Love was once a complicated game where single men and women would call to one another's houses from opposite sides of the street. Women who were not chosen met afterward to burn the personal effects of those who had spurned them. This tradition caused so much concern that it was eventually banned by the French government.


They have the same Japanese trend for chocolate giving, but it is the women who receive the gifts in February and the men in March.

Finland and Estonia

These two countries celebrate friendships rather than romantic love on this day in February. Small gifts or handwritten cards are exchanged, although it is also a popular day for couples to get engaged.


February 14 marks the arrival of spring in Slovenia, when the birds are said to marry and the people begin working in the fields again. The locals don’t celebrate their love until almost a month later, on March 12.

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