Valentine’s Day traditions from around the world

From banned dating rituals to fruity pick-up lines, they do things differently abroad!

What does Valentine’s Day mean to you?

A soppy card, dozen red roses and a candlelit dinner for two? If you’re looking for a bit more inspiration this year, we’ve explored the most romantic traditions from across the world across the ages – from revealing secret admirers and throwing oranges in rivers to where Valentine’s Day is strictly banned.

Perhaps the clichéd roses will seem like a great choice after all!

Get hitched en masse in the Philippines: Fancy sharing your wedding day with hundreds of others? That’s one tradition which is sweeping the country here. Mass weddings are gaining popularity in recent years with hundreds of couples gathering at malls and other public locations to get married or renew their vows en masse. On Valentine’s Day 2015, almost 700 got married together in Manila.

Reveal your sweetheart in South Africa: It’s customary on Valentine’s Day for women to wear their hearts on their sleeves – quite literally! In an ancient Roman tradition called Lupercalia, the name of a love interest is pinned on their sleeve – so the lucky man may be in for a happy surprise.

Get out your craft knife in Wales: Showing a lady you cared in 17th century Wales entailed carving intricate wooden spoons with each symbol denoting a different meaning. These days though you can buy them in craft and gift shops.

A modern take on the wooden spoon...and some weird shaped sweet treats.

Presents for the men in Japan: A tradition started because women were said to be too shy to express their love – so they’d present gifts to men on Valentine’s Day. But men aren’t off the hook, they have to return gifts a month later on ‘White Day’.

A herby English custom for the ladies: If you want to follow an old English tradition, you’d better raid your spice rack. Then place five bay leaves on your pillow to bring dreams of your future husband.

Want to avoid Valentine’s Day? Saudi Arabia is for you: Back in 2008, Saudi officials banned the ‘sinful’ Valentine’s Day as it encouraged immoral relations between unmarried men and women. All red items were banned from florists and gift shops in the run up to the day.

Find out your true love in Brazil: The day of lovers in Brazil is in June with women writing names of their crushes on individual pieces of paper the night before. The one they’d pick on the day is their chosen future mate.

Get fruity in Malaysia: On the seventh day of the seventh month of the lunar, women mark their phone number on an orange and cast them into a river – then wait for their true love to pick it up. However, fruit vendors often gather them up and sell them at the market!

None of these oranges have phone numbers on them...which is a shame.

A banned dating ritual in France: Une loterie d’amour saw singletons gather in houses facing each other. They’d take turns calling out to each other until they were all coupled up. Women who were rejected held mass bonfires where they burned pictures of the men while cursing them. However, the events became so wild that they’re now banned!

Be poetic in Denmark: Anonymous love poems and rhymes called ‘gaekkebrev’ – were sent to women with the only clue to the recipient being a series of dots. If it was guessed correctly, she’ll receive an egg at Easter, if not, she’d have to buy one for the sender instead.

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