How the World Celebrates Love - Valentine's Day

In Canada we celebrate Valentine’s Day on February 14th which explains why you’ve probably seen an influx in all things red roses and boxes of chocolates.

Suddenly “love is in the air” and every candy comes in the shape of a heart. 

In Ottawa you’ll hear suggestions of spending Valentine’s Day at Nordik Spa-Nature or Winterlude and in cities like Montreal we even see parties like Soirée sans Valentines pop up for those still waiting to be struck by Cupid’s arrow. 

But Canada isn’t the only country to celebrate Sweethearts day, and it certainly isn’t the only one to adopt traditions of flowers and sweets. 

Put the Emphasis on Friends in Finland

Three men looking out at ocean

While the rest of the world is celebrating the most romantic day of the year, Finland proclaims their love to friends, family, neighbours, co-workers and of course significant others. It’s called Ystävänpäivä or Friend’s Day and it’s customary to give cards, candy and flowers to everyone you care about in your life - not just your sweetheart.

Share Chocolates in Japan

In Japan for example, things are a little more one-sided. Unlike in North America where both people exchange gifts, Valentine’s Day is all about women showering men with gifts. It’s usually in the form of chocolates and candies as opposed to jewelry or candle lit dinners.

There are two types of chocolates you can expect to receive if you’re spending February 14th in Japan. Giri-choco are chocolates given to friends and family (or people you care about in a non-romantic way). On the flipside, honmei-chocos are given to romantic partners or someone you have a romantic interest in, which means they’re usually fancier or more expensive chocolates - often times homemade.

Heart shaped chocolate

For our female readers, when it’s their turn to be showered in presents, it’s also important to remember that Japan celebrates “White Day” one month later on March 14th, which is traditionally when we see men do the gift-giving. That's right - bring on the gifts! 

Celebrate your Boyfriend or Girlfriend in June in Brazil

Since Carnaval takes centre-stage throughout February, February 14th gets a little overshadowed in Brazil. But it certainly hasn’t stopped anyone from dedicating a day to love and romance. Brazil’s Valentine’s Day is called Dia dos Namorados (which translates to “Lovers’ Day” or “Boyfriends’ / Girlfriends’ Day”).

Woman on man's back

Unlike the North American and European tradition, the Dia dos Namorados celebrates Saint Anthony’s Day, who’s known for blessing young couples with a prosperous marriage. It’s celebrated similarly though, with young couples exchanging gifts, flowers and chocolates (or going out for a fancy dinner).

Give Roses and Cards to Loved ones in Denmark

Giving roses and cards may not seem like anything new, but it’s also important to remember that Valentine’s Day is a pretty new holiday in Denmark. People didn’t start celebrating until the 1990’s when young Danes would give white flowers called “snowdrops” to both friends and lovers.

Woman holding bouquet of yellow flowers

Other than flowers, exchanging lover’s cards is also popular. In the past, “these cards showed a photograph of the card-giver offering a gift to their lover. Today, though, any kind of card exchanged on Valentine’s Day is called a lover’s card.”

South Africa

Like many parts of the world, South Africa celebrates Valentine's Day with candle-lit dinners and flowers. Women in South Africa, “...wear their hearts on their sleeves on February 14th; women pin the names of their love interest on their shirtsleeves, an ancient Roman tradition known as Lupercalia.”


Montreal, Canada

In true Montreal fashion, Valentine’s Day is celebrated with a festival. This time around it’s the Je t’aime en chocolat which takes place the weekend before Valentine’s Day. This year was the seventh edition in the heart of Old Montreal where chocolatiers and artisans from all over Quebec came to showcase their talents.

Also at the festival: pastry chefs, speakers and experts on all things chocolate as well as demonstrations, workshop-conferences, and of course, chocolate tastings.

It wouldn’t be a true Valentine’s Day in Montreal if it wasn’t celebrated at some sort of festival!

Laughing couple

Happy love day - to all those you love.

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