Bits and Pieces of Valentine Tales from around the World

Valentine Reciprocity in Japan and South Korea

On February 14 you’ll find women showering men with gifts and affection. Then a month later on March 14, in celebration of White Day, the men reciprocate their feelings by giving to women.

“Jack Valentine” lives in England

February 14 was originally celebrated as a day of delivering surprise valentines often through ringing the door bell, running and leaving a bundle of gifts on the door step. This ritual survives as “Jack Valentine” who is a mysterious cupid who disappears into thin air after knocking on the door with a delivery of gifts.

Une Loterie d’amour; the Valentine Tradition in France

Single men and women would enter houses which faced opposite each other. They would take turns calling out to one another until they were all paired off. If a man did not like his match, he would leave her for another man to call.

After all pairings, the women who did not get matched up would get together for a ceremonial bonfire in which they burned pictures and objects of the men who rejected them. As the tradition grew, it became increasingly rowdy and uncontrollable, eventually leading the French government to ban the practice all together.

Celebrating Single Life

In South Korea, locals celebrate Black Day on April 14 where those who didn’t exchange gifts on Valentine’s Day and White Day meet up to eat traditional Korean noodles in black bean sauce. Some claim they’re celebrating their single life, while others say they are mourning it.

Spoons Are A Token Of Love in Wales

In Wales, Valentine’s Day takes place on Jan. 25 in celebration of Saint Dwynwen, the Welsh patron saint of lovers. It’s been a long-standing tradition for men to carve intricate spoons for women as a token of their affection.

A Controversial Valentine in Russia

In Russia, they banned Valentine’s Day because it is designed for commercial purposes and “does not help young people to develop spiritual and moral values.”

Rappelling for Love in Thailand

In Thailand’s Prachinburi province, Thai couples who get married around Valentine’s Day often take part in a mountainside ceremony that involves rappelling ropes and dizzying heights.

Romeo and Juliet in Italy

According to legend, one of the martyred Valentines secretly wed couples in defiance of a Roman Emperor’s orders not to marry anyone during wartime. Today, there’s a four-day festival in Verona that celebrates love with heart-shaped lanterns and a letter-writing contest to Juliet.

 “Wear Your Heart On Your Sleeve” in South Africa

In South Africa, women carry on the Lupercalian tradition which is an ancient Roman tradition known as Lupercalia by pinning the name of their love interest to their shirts.

Secret Admirers in Denmark

In Denmark, men give women anonymous cards, or “joking letters” called gaekkebrev, on paper snowflakes. They usually feature a funny poem, and if the woman guesses who it’s from, she earns an Easter egg on Easter Sunday. If she doesn’t, she owes an egg to the sender.

Old-School England and Dream Valentines

Back in the day, one of England’s Valentine’s Day traditions was for women to place bay leaves on their pillows on Valentine’s Eve to bring dreams of their future husbands.

A Valentine Mass Wedding In Manila

Valentine’s Day is a hugely popular day to get married in the Philippines, but thankfully couples don’t have to compete for venue space. They just hold mass wedding ceremonies instead, where couples gather in public spaces to get married or renew their vows.

The Commercial Valentine

Ghana is very savvy about its Valentine’s Day customs. In Ghana, Feb. 14 has been dubbed “National Chocolate Day” in order to promote tourism and cocoa products, which are the backbone of Ghana’s economy.


Short Bursts of Valentine History Trivia

♥ The first valentine was written from a prison in the 15th century.

Vinegar valentines were used in the Victorian Era to discourage unwanted suitors.

Sweetheart candies were originally designed as lozenges. In 1886 the Chase brothers decided to print messages on them and in 1901 they got their heart shape.

How the XXX became the mark of love and the kiss: The X was originally used as a symbol to sign off on documents. After marking the letter with an X, the writer would often kiss the mark as a sign of their oath. It was “sealed with a kiss”.


Visit Smith and Company Consignment where the heart meets history. One-of-a-kind gifts for those special people in your life. 


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