There is a mystery surrounding the St. Valentine’s Day legend. 

Valentine’s Day has a rich history that dates to the third century, the Roman Empire’s time. There were two Saint Valentines at the time, and they were both imprisoned and executed because they believed in Christianity. 

Legend has it that one of these Saint Valentines performed miracles and secretly wedded couples who were forbidden from marriage by Roman law.

Today, it’s a day when we celebrate love throughout the world in all forms.

Love across the world:

Each culture has adapted its own way of celebrating Valentine’s Day. Let’s start our cultural journey and find out how is it love celebrated in different countries:


Valentine’s Day is known as “Dia dos Namorados” or “Dia de São Valentim”. 

The “cantarinha dos namorados” is a popular Valentine’s Day gift in Guimarães that preserves an ancient tradition. When a man wants to ask his girlfriend to marry him, he gives a “Cantarinha”  jug made of clay if the answer is yes, and the parents approve. The jug is used to store gifts.

Cantarinha dos namorados, Valentine's Day gift in Portugal
Cantarinha dos namorados, Valentine’s Day gift in Portugal on Flickr


The Danish make a literal joke out of Valentine’s Day! “Gaekkebrev”, or joke letters, are sent to their admirers. The sender writes a rhyme or poem on it and signs it with dots rather than a name. If the person is correctly identified, the recipient will receive an Easter egg, if not, they’ll need to send an Easter egg to the sender. 

"Gaekkebrev", anonymous joke letter
Gaekkebrev”, anonymous joke letter
Photo of Debby Hudson in Unsplash


The most famous Valentine’s Day gift is the pig. Pigs can be found alongside chocolates, flowers, and hearts! For Germans, the pig represents good fortune and desire. Another very popular gift is lebkuchen, a heart-shaped gingerbread cookie with a message.


Japan approaches it very differently. Women buy gifts and chocolates for their male companions or lovers on February 14th. Men return the gifts on March 14th “White Day.

the women giving a gift to his husband as a japan tradition on valentines day
Photo on Shutterstock

South Korea:

Women in South Korea, like in Japan, give gifts to men on Valentine’s Day, while men observe White Day. South Korea, on the other hand, has a third holiday known as Black Day. On April 14, single friends gather to eat noodles and celebrate being single. 

Noddles eaten on Black day
Noodles that are eaten on Black Day 
Image by Jakub Kapusnak for


On February 14th, people from China celebrate Valentine’s Day, but they also have their own traditional day. Qixi Festival is observed on the seventh day of the seventh lunar month, which is usually in August. 

Qixi festival in china
Qixi Festival in China. Picture from Shutterstock


The government organizes a massive wedding ceremony for hundreds of couples to marry.

Photo of rings with flowers
Photo of  Beatriz Pérez Moya in  Unsplash


If you enjoy Valentine’s Day, Argentina is the place to be! They celebrate on February 14th, and then they celebrate for an entire week in July, ending with Friendship Day.

group of friends drinking beer
Photo of  Elevate in Unsplash


Brazil celebrates its day of love on June 12th, “Dia dos Namorados” – Lover’s Day, rather than February 14th. Their Valentine’s Day celebrations are similar to those around the world, with gifts, romance, parties, and decorations.

a card with a rose
Photo of RODNAE Productions in Pexels

Learning about different cultures and traditions gives us a bigger perspective of the world. Read all about it in our article How to Learn a New Culture: 5 Effective Hacks.

If you are interested in getting to know more about cultures around the world, let us be your guide as you venture into a new culture! At SPEAK you can exchange languages and cultures with people from all over the world.

Become a buddy and share your own experiences, or sign up as a participant in your city and begin immersing yourself in a new culture today.

Author: Barbara Alves

Bárbara is a language enthusiast who is driven to make a difference in the world. While studying Leisure Management and Tourism Entertainment at ESHTE and working as the Recruitment and People Ops Intern at SPEAK, she is working hard to accomplish the Sustainable Development Goals. She enjoys writing, and poetry is her favorite form of expression.

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