All around the world, people celebrate love on Valentine's Day—though the day's traditions vary greatly from place to place.
The exact origins of Valentine's Day are shrouded in mystery. The Catholic Church recognizes at least three saints named Valentine or Valentinus, and there are a variety of legends surrounding these Valentines. One legend tells that Valentine was a priest who used to marry young lovers in secret in an era where, and was put to death by Emperor Claudius II.
We do know that two men named Valentine were put to death three years from one another by Claudius on February 14th. Later, when they were martyred, St. Valentine's Day was born.
Romanticized by Shakespeare and Chaucer, then later made into a booming business by capitalism, Valentine's Day is thriving. Here are some unique V-Day traditions from around the world—consider trying one or two to spice up your day.
Bulgaria's Day of Wine
Every year on February 14th, Bulgarians celebrate St. Trison Zarezan Day, AKA winemaker's day. Couples typically share glasses of wine from their nation—and some refer to this day as the nation's informal national drinking day.
The festival is actually a celebration of the god Dionysus, god of wine, as well as a celebration of the labor of growers and vine-makers.
2. Estonia and Finland
Singles, delight: Estonia and Finland have no Valentine's Day. Instead, they celebrate Sobrapaev, which literally translates to "Friendship Day." The holiday began in Finland in the 1980s among children and is now widely celebrated across the region.
China Day of Love
A star-crossed story of love and loss provides the background to China's "Day of Love," which takes place on the 7th day of the 7th month in the Chinese calendar. According to legend, the day was born when two lovers were forced to be apart due to their social status—but were granted the chance to reunite once a year. In some versions of the story, the lovers are a fairy named Zhinu who married a mortal named Niulang, but their love is blocked by the Goddess of Heaven, who created the Milky Way to separate them. In this story as well, it is believed that the literally star-crossed lovers have but one day to refine.
In general, today, this day is a chance for couples to pray for good fortune and single folks to eat fruit in the hopes that they will find love.
4. South Korea
South Korea - April's Black Day
South Koreans celebrate monthly holidays in honor of love—the 14th of every month is always a day to celebrate. January 14 is with Candle Day; February 14 is Valentine's Day; March 14 is White Day; April 14 is Black Day; May 14 is Rose Day; June 14 is Kiss Day; July 14 is Silver Day; August 14 is Green Day; September 14 is Music Day; October 14 is Wine Day; November 14 is Movie Day; and December 14 is Hug Day.
On Valentine's Day, women are typically responsible for purchasing their men chocolates (if we're talking heteronormative relationships). For singles or anyone not mired in a relationship, there's April's Black Day, when eating black noodles is a tradition.
5. The Philippines
Philippines Valentines Day
In the Philippines, Valentine's Day often becomes a major romantic event when hundreds of couples gather to get married on the same day. The occasion is a sight to see—and the weddings are extremely popular as all the festivities, cakes, venues, and even rings are provided on this special day. The mass wedding tradition began in provinces to help couples struggling financially and now is a tradition that spans the nation.
Valentines DayValentines Day
Argentina celebrates a typical Valentine's Day on February 14, but they take it one step further with "Sweetness Week," an entire week dedicated to celebrating one's love of friends and family.
During the celebration, which first began in 1989, friends exchange candy and affection and the last day of the week, "Friendship Day," is dedicated to celebrating friendship.