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Show Me The Love! How to Celebrate Valentine’s Day Around the World

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Some people hate Valentine’s Day with a fiery passion, while others enjoy the opportunity to indulge in their more sentimental and romantic side. A holiday that has traditionally called for secret letters to those you love and chocolates for those you hold dear, is celebrated slightly differently everywhere. Learn more about Valentine’s traditions all over the globe, here:

Japan and Korea

Valentine’s day is a little different in Japan and Korea. In both of these countries girls give chocolates and candy to boys, or women give to men almost exclusively. It’s true in some foreign circles or with smaller children taking English classes, you will find both boys and girls exchanging chocolates and cards, but it is primarily a holiday for women to give gifts to men.

Both countries have a corresponding holiday called White Day which falls on the 14th of March. It’s a day for the boys to give chocolates, flowers, and other gifts to the girls. In Korea, April 14th is also connected to the whole Valentine’s-White Day tradition: it’s Black Day. On Black Day single people eat black noodles and sob into their kimchi because they’re alone and got shafted for the last two month’s worth of holidays.

In Japan, women often feel obligated to give chocolates to all of their male co-workers if the holiday falls on a work day, a feeling where the term giri-choko (義理チョコ) or ‘chocolate obligation’ comes from. On White Day in Japan, men are meant to give gifts at least three times more valuable than the ones women give on Valentine’s day, so gifts can include lingerie, jewellery, and other expensive goodies!

How do they say it?

In Korean, I love you translates as 사랑해 or saranghae. You can call your honey 자기야 or jag-i-ya when you want to be super cute!

In Japanese, ‘I love you’ is too strong. Use わたしは、あなたが好きですor watashiwa anata ga suki desu, which means ‘I like you’. Call your lover 恋人 or koibito any day of the year, not just on Valentine’s Day.


These days, Valentine’s Day in France is celebrated much as it is in North America, though historically, the day had a more pagan (and slightly more interesting) mating ritual involved. On Valentine’s Day, historically, young unmarried men and women would participate in a ‘drawing for’ ceremony or une loterie d’amour. ‘Drawing for’ someone, involved men and women travelling door to door calling out names of those they fancied.

If the men liked what they saw when they were visited or when they did the visiting, they would partner up. If the man was less than pleased with the lady ‘drawing for’ him, then he could leave and move onto another house. At the end of the night, the ladies who were left scorned, would join together in the town square and set fire to effigies of the men who wouldn’t accept their advances. For obvious fire-related reasons, this tradition fell by the wayside and was banned by the French government.

How do they say it?

French is the language of love. Try je t’aime (I like you), je t’adore (I love you) or je te désire (I desire you). It may sound strange but you can call your sweetheart your ‘little cabbage’ in French, using mon petit chou.


In Mexico, the ‘Day of Love and Friendship’ or dia del amor y la amistad is celebrated. The scope isn’t as narrow as a ‘lovers only’ take on the holiday and it has some unique traditions associated with it. An older tradition exists, where young men and women will gather with their friends in a park. Groups of boys will pass by groups of girls, and a boy may offer a girl a flower if he likes her.

If the groups pass again, and the girl is still holding the flower, it means that she likes him as well. A bit outdated and coy for today’s world of Tinder, but the old fashioned display of affection adds a rather romantic element to the holiday. A more recent tradition emerging is to also cover your significant other’s car in post-it notes that have cheesy sentimental expressions on them.

How do they say it?

In Spanish, try te quiero (I love you), or, for that special love of your life, you can say te amo, which is a bit more romantic.

Bali, Indonesia

Though it’s not held on the 14th of February, Bali has the “Kissing Ritual” or kissing festival on April 1st. This festival, also called Omed-Omedan is held every year. Young Balinese residents get together in the centre of their town or city, and kiss each other while onlookers and participants drench them with buckets of ice cold water. It all seems a bit intense, which is appropriate as it follows the day of silence, Nyepi. It’s one sure fire way to break out of a more sombre holiday mood!

How do they say it?

In Indonesian, you can call your loved one sayang, or sanyangku meaning ‘dearest’. To tell them you love them, use saya cinta kamu (cinta sounds like ‘chinta’).


Now that you’ve seen how Valentine’s Day is celebrated in other parts of the world, why not tell us how you celebrate the 14th of February? Do you buy gifts for your crush, or for your significant other? Is it all a bogus chocolate covered trap? And contact us today to learn how to say more than just “I love you”!