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Valentine’s Day traditions from around the world

Whether you love it or hate it, Valentine’s Day is almost here. Whilst Valentine’s Day in the UK prompts traditions of treating your loved one to a romantic evening along with lavishing gifts upon each other, it isn’t the case all around the world. Although many customs are similar, there are some nations that do things a little differently. So to better understand traditions from across the globe, here are some of our favourite customs.


For the majority of the Western world, the male in a relationship is expected to treat and lavish gifts upon their better female half, however in Japan it is customary for the roles to be reversed. It’s all about spoiling your man in this part of the world, with the fairer sex being at the forefront of the gift-giving process and, unsurprisingly, chocolates are the conventional gift of choice.

Denmark and Norway

Although ‘Valentinsday’ is, for the most part an imported tradition from larger Western nations, the Danes and Norwegians have implemented their own unique twist on the romantic day. Despite having only begun to celebrate the occasion relatively recently they believe in exchanging ‘Gaekkebrev’ – which aren’t exactly gifts, but are an important part of the day. They may sound complicated and intimidating, but they’re nothing more than a rhyming love note or short poem used by men to express their affection to their partner.


Whilst their modern practices are now similar to the rest of the Western world, Australia has a history of sparing no expense when Valentine’s Day comes around. During the gold rushes of the 1800’s, miners who were fortunate to enjoy new found wealth from the Ballarat mines were willing to pay a pricey sum for elaborate Valentine’s gifts. To accommodate the need for expensive gifts, merchants in Australia would send orders away to get highly desired items. The most extravagant of Valentine’s gifts were made of materials like satin cushion, were ornately designed and often smelled heavily of perfume.


Another custom from the history books is this one that continued for centuries in Italy. Tradition stipulated that Valentine’s Day was celebrated as a Spring Festival, usually held in the open air. Italian youth gathered in public gardens, where they listened to music and enjoyed poetry readings in what was a very cultural affair. If a young adult was fortunate enough to have a partner at the time, they would proceed to stroll with their Valentine through the romantic surroundings.

Photo Credit: Karen from Michigan via Compfight cc

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