Love Is All Around: How Valentine’s Day Is Celebrated The World Over 

Lovestruck couples around the globe will be celebrating the most romantic time of the year signalled by 14 February and Valentine’s Day. A day when partners profess their love for one another, while others declare secret admiration from afar via an anonymous card. 

While its origins are somewhat unclear, the day is named after St. Valentine, a Christian martyr and over time has evolved into a celebration, where people express their feelings for one another through various gestures. 

Valentine’s Day is celebrated in various ways around the world, with different countries and cultures having unique traditions and customs. COLUMBIA cruise services, an expert in cruise ship management around the world, looks at just a few of the many international Valentine’s Day traditions: 

France is considered one of the most romantic countries in the world, and in Paris couples often visit iconic landmarks such as the Eiffel Tower, with the landmark providing the setting for many romantic gestures and even marriage proposals. Exchanging love letters and enjoying a romantic meal are also seen as a way to celebrate being in love. 

In China, there are two main days associated with romantic love: Valentine’s Day, which is celebrated on 14 February, and the Qixi Festival (also known as Chinese Valentine’s Day) which falls on the seventh day of the seventh lunar month; this year Qixi will fall on 10 August. On Valentine’s Day, some couples take the opportunity to publicly declare their love for each other through social media posts, public displays of affection, or other creative expressions, and also exchange gifts similar to Western traditions, while activities during Qixi Festival include making wishes, crafting colourful paper decorations and making offerings to celestial beings. Young women often demonstrate traditional handicrafts and needlework skills as a way to attract a good husband, while some couples participate in stargazing activities, as the festival is associated with the stars Vega and Altair, representing the Cowherd and Weaver Girl. 

In the US and Canada, a common tradition is the exchange of cards and gift such as chocolates and flowers. Romantic dinners and special date nights are also popular. While in the UK, some lovers may also exchange gifts such as jewellery or surprise their partner with a weekend away or another unexpected gift experience. 

In Japan, it is customary for women to give gifts, usually chocolates, to men on Valentine’s Day, while a month later, on White Day (14 March) men reciprocate the gesture by giving gifts, usually white-coloured candies or marshmallows, to the women who gave them chocolates on Valentine’s Day. Some women also buy chocolates for themselves on Valentine’s Day, a practice known as jibun-choco, as a way of treating themselves. 

Similar to Japan, South Korea celebrates Valentine’s Day on 14 February and White Day on 14 March, while on Black Day (14 April) singles who did not receive gifts on the previous two occasions gather to eat black bean noodles and commiserate. 

Italy celebrates a similar day called ‘La Festa degli Innamorati’ (the holiday of lovers), and it is celebrated with romantic dinners and the exchanging of gifts. 

In Brazil, ‘Dia dos Namorados’ (lovers’ day) is celebrated on 12 June and is the Brazilian equivalent of Valentine’s Day, with couples swapping gifts and enjoying special events and activities. 

In South Africa, Valentine’s Day is celebrated with the exchange of gifts, flowers, and romantic dinners, with some people also participating in special festivals and events organised for couples. 

Mass weddings are common on Valentine’s Day in the Philippines, where numerous couples tie the knot in large ceremonies, organised by local government units or private organisations. Married couples may also choose to renew their wedding vows on Valentine’s Day as a way of reaffirming their commitment to each other. 

Traditions can vary within countries and regions, and cruise passengers can soak up the mix of cultural and global influences if lucky to be in one of these destinations on Valentine’s Day.