Celebrating Love Around the World

Valentine’s Day is one of those holidays that you probably either love, or hate. I must admit, when I was younger—I mean MUCH younger—I loved to pick out my Valentine’s Day card packs and write notes to all of my classmates. Fast forward to my melodramatic angsty teenage years, Valentine’s Day was either thrilling, or devastating. In my adult life, the thought of Valentine’s Day started warranting mini-eye rolls. “Sigh, those marketing companies! What a ploy! Priorities people!” I think I’ve finally settled on this: Valentine’s Day is a day that I use to celebrate the people whom I appreciate both romantically and non-romantically. Without a doubt, food has become an intricate component of Valentine’s Day and, if you know me, you’ll probably be getting some sort of heart-shaped baked good!

Working for a company like ChefXchange, with a widespread international team, had me thinking—how do people celebrate love around the world? We’re in DC, London, Dubai and Beirut. Valentine’s Day is celebrated pretty traditionally in all of these places—flowers, gifts, chocolates, restaurants. There must be more! After some research we’ve come up with a list of ways that other countries celebrate love.

Bolivia: Día del Amor y Amistad

Bolivia doesn’t celebrate Valentine’s Day explicitly. It does however, have two holidays that celebrate love and friendship. On July 23rd, there is Día del Amor y Amistad, which celebrates both love and friendship. The Spring Equinox brings with it Dia del Amor. Both days are celebrated with the traditional exchange of cookies, candies and flowers.

Estonia: Friendship Day

In Estonia, February 14th is known as Friendship Day. Romantic and non-romantic love is emphasized on this holiday—making it as inclusive as possible. For those seeking love and romance, there’s a “love bus” (seriously, it’s a tradition), giving singles the opportunity to find others seeking the same thing!

Ghana: National Chocolate Day

valentines celebrations around the worldPhoto credit: 24thcentury via Foter.com / CC BY-NC-SA

In 2007, the Tourism Ministry decided that Ghana shouldn’t be left out of Valentine’s Day. Though Valentine’s Day has zero cultural significance to Ghana, it certainly holds economic significance; cocoa is the chief agricultural export. Ghana is the second largest exporter of cocoa; Côte d’Ivoire is the largest exporter. The main importers of Ghanaian cocoa are (unsurprisingly) the European Union, United States and Japan. Valentine’s Day is known as “National Chocolate Day” and aims to promote Ghana’s production of cocoa and its contribution to the chocolate making process through education, awareness building initiatives and of course, chocolate dessert specials at restaurants for those who do celebrate more traditionally.

For your chocolate needs, you’ll be blown away by Chef Andrea‘s (London) White Chili Chocolate Soufflé.

Japan: Valentine’s Day & White Day

valentines celebrations around the worldPhoto credit: minato via Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND

Japan celebrates not once, but twice a year for Valentine’s Day. On February 14th, traditional gender roles are reversed and generally, women dote on the males in their life with chocolate. This includes significant others, friends, family members and even obligatory gifting (think coworkers, bosses etc). Then, one month later on March 14th, men return to the favor with white chocolate and other gifts. This holiday has successfully been campaigned and adopted as “White Day”. Fun fact:

The tiers of Valentine’s chocolate are known as:

  • Giri-Choko(義理チョコ): Literally, “obligation chocolate”; given to men with whom women are not in a romantic relationship, i.e. brothers, fathers, close male friends.
  • Chou-giri-choko(超義理チョコ): a step down, for ultra-obligatory chocolate giving to men that you aren’t necessarily even fond of.
  • Honmei-choko(本命チョコ): Meaning “favorite chocolate”, this is the best of the best and oftentimes handmade, given specially to spouses and significant others.

To satiate your Japanese food cravings, Chef Keiko (London) will shower you in sushi (and can teach you how to make it too!).

South Korea

valentines celebrations around the world

Jjajyangmyeon (Black Noodles)

Photo credit: powerplantop via Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND

Like Japan, South Korea celebrates love twice a year. Valentine’s Day is when women shower the men in their lives with chocolate. March 14th is also known as “White Day” and that is when Valentine’s Day is reciprocated. South Korea takes it one step further however and also has a day called “Black Day”, on April 14th. On this day, singles go out and eat jjajyangmyeon, or “black noodles.” Lamenting the lack of love or embracing singleness with friends? It’s all about perspective!

Feel like Korean food for Valentine’s Day… or some “Black Day” noodles? Chef Madison (Washington, DC) has got you covered!)

We could go on forever! Love spoons from Wales, Bachelors & Spinsters Balls in Australia and more. What we really want to know is how do you celebrate love? We love to learn, leave us a comment with fun and interesting facts from your culture. We’ll add them to our list!

Explore our chefs, and check out all of the countries and cultures that we can bring to your table! Make your Valentine’s Day an international experience and sit back and relax with those whom you love.