The world’s strangest Valentine’s Day rituals

From OAPs in fancy dress to walking barefoot through icy fields, the world celebrates St Valentine’s Day in very different ways

13 February 2015

1. Brazil

With Carnival uppermost in their minds, Brazilians don’t traditionally celebrate Valentine’s Day on 14 February. Instead they wait until Dia dos Namorados (Day of Lovers) on June 12.

Dia dos Namorados celebrates the feast day of the patron saint of matchmaking and romance. Single women write down the names of people they have crushes on, put them in a hat and then draw out a single name. Traditionally, that is the person they should marry.

2. Romania

Romanians give 14 February a miss too and wait until the 24th to celebrate Dragobete. It’s a celebration of spring and love, and the day when the birds (supposedly) start building their nests. Young girls collect snow to use in love potions. Boys sing songs about spring.

3. Slovenia

In Slovenia, Valentine’s Day is seen as an auspicious day to start working the vineyards and fields after the long winter. Like the Romanians, the Slovenians are hung up on the birds, but believe that it is the day that birds propose to each other. Those looking for love are encouraged to walk through the still-frozen fields, barefoot.

4. Kurdish Iraq

Iraqi Kurds celebrate Valentine’s Day with a ‘feast of love’, decorating red apples to represent the original love story: Adam and Eve. It diverges from the biblical tale in that an apple is believed to bring prosperity and love, not the end of earthly paradise.

5. Verona, Italy

As the setting for Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, Verona pulls out all stops for Valentine’s Day. There are tours that retrace the tragic lovers’ footsteps, a contest for the best love letter to Juliet, and a giant red heart in the main square.

6. The Philippines

Each Valentine’s Day, Filipino couples gather in their hundreds in shopping malls throughout the country to attempt to break the world record for the most people kissing simultaneously. Sponsored by a local toothpaste brand, the festival starts at midnight when everyone kisses at once.

7. Japan

In Japan, only men receive chocolate on Valentine’s Day. And the girl doesn’t even have to fancy them. Called Giri-choko, or obligation chocolate, it is handed out to both loved ones and co-workers.

Japanese guys don’t get off altogether though. A month later, on March 14, they’re expected to return the favour.

8. Germany

In Germany, nothing says ‘Ich Lieber Dich’ better than a giant heart shaped biscuit. The biscuits come with a ribbon attached so it can be draped around the shoulders of the lucky recipient.


9. Guatemala

In Guatemala on St Valentine’s Day, locals dress up in feathers and masks for Old Love, a senior citizen’s parade through Guatemala City.

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