Valentine’s Day


The Different Traditions in Different Areas of our World

February 14th is known all around the world as ‘Valentine’s Day’ where people exchange cards, gifts, flowers and chocolates with their loved ones whether it be friends, family members and partners. We were interested in finding out how the day is celebrated all around the world and what traditions different countries have.


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One of the traditions we found the most interesting was in Japan; this involves women giving men chocolate. On February 14th in 1936, a chocolate confectioner published its first ever Valentines Day advert which started the tradition in Japan. In the 1970s, chocolates were used to express the nature of relationships on Valentines Day, without the need for words.

Women give men high quality, and lower quality chocolate, depending on their relationship with the recipient. The most expensive chocolate related to love is the one given to boyfriends, lovers or husbands and is called ‘Honmei-choko, which translates to ‘favourite or true feeling chocolate’. Sometimes women make this chocolate themselves to show extra love and interest.

‘Tomo- choko’ means ‘friend chocolate’ and is given by women to their closest female friends.

‘Giri-choko’ translates to ‘obligation chocolate’ and is given by women to men without any romantic relations. They may give this chocolate to their brothers, bosses, fathers or co-workers.

‘Cho-giri choko’ is referred to as ‘ultra-obligatory chocolate’ and is given to men that the women aren’t very fond of. They tend to feel obliged to give to these people and this chocolate is normally a lot cheaper than the other types given.

Chocolate manufacturers also came up with another idea in the 1980s called White Day, signifying purity, which falls on March 14th. On this day, men reciprocate the love and give women in their lives gifts. These gifts tend to be lingerie, clothing and jewellery. If a man gives his lady chocolate, it has to be at least two times more valuable than the ones they received on Valentines Day.


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Denmark and Norway

These countries have only recently began celebrating the day. They have a tradition called ‘Gaekkebrev’ where the men will send anonymous humorous poems or love notes to a woman. It is then down to the woman to guess who her sender was- if she guesses it correctly she receives an Easter Egg that year, but if she guesses it incorrectly, it is her who has to buy the Easter Egg for the man.


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Finland and Estonia

February 14th in these countries is more of a celebration of friendship than love. It is a day for friends to exchange small gifts and cards, however it is a popular day to tie the knot or get engaged.


Stores in the city of Turin would decorate and load their shop with a huge variety of sweets. Some also filled China baskets full of expensive sweets tied with ribbon for gifts to be presented to Valentine. February 14th was typically a day for couples to announce their engagement.

There is also an old tradition in Italy, where unmarried girls would wake up at Sunrise. It was said that the first man they saw on that day they would marry, or marry someone who looked like them, within one year. Girls would therefore wake up early on Valentines Day to look out of their window to see the first man to pass.


Since February 14th in 2007, Valentine’s Day has been re-named National Chocolate Day in Ghana. As Ghana is one of the worlds largest cocoa experts,  this change was aimed at promoting Ghana’s contribution to chocolate production. This idea was pushed by the country’s tourism ministry as a way to attract visitors to the West African nation.


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Known as one of the most romantic countries in the world, the most popular old tradition for Valentine’s Day was called ‘drawing for love’. This involved single men and women of all ages to enter houses that faced opposite each other in their housing street and take turns to choose a partner until everyone was paired off. However, if the men didn’t like their match, they would simply leave the woman. The women that didn’t get matched up, or got dismissed by the first match, got together for a bonfire where they tossed pictures and objects of the men who rejected them into the fire, whilst swearing and hurling curses. The French Government officially banned this event because of how uncontrollable the whole event got.


Nowadays, February 14th is a commercialised date, where couples tend to exchange cards, gifts, chocolates, soft toys, and flowers. However, there is an old tradition, said to have been in Norfolk, called ‘Jack Valentine’. This is a Valentines version of Santa Clause, where Jack is said to knock at the children’s door on Valentine’s Eve and leave them presents to open the next morning. Nobody knows how this tradition started, and it is rarely still practised.


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Know of any other traditions for February 14th around the world? Please let us know- we found researching this really interesting so would love to know about other ones too!

Bellissimo Team X


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