Valentine’s Day Traditions from Around the World


Valentine’s Day runs a gamut of emotions – anticipation for some, dread for others. So what does this emotion-charged day mean for people around the world?

In Korea, Valentine’s Day is a day women give men chocolate, not the other way around. This tradition was influenced by a practice in Japan that’s been around since the 1950s – according to some Japan studies scholars, one theory is that a chocolate company executive mistranslated directions for the holiday (!) and the tradition simply stuck. White Day, which is on March 14th, is the equally significant counterpart to Valentine’s Day where men can follow suit with a gift of candy or flowers. This month-long term between reciprocation often ends up in plenty of nail-biting and drama during one’s tender adolescent years (and let’s face it, beyond…)

Image: lifelikeapps

What’s unique to Korea is that April 14th is yet another landmark day – Black Day. This is when those who haven’t received either a Valentine’s Day or White Day gift gather to eat and commiserate over a good ole’ dish of black bean noodles (jjajangmyun). This dish is pretty much the Korean comfort food equivalent of eating chicken noodle soup or buttery mashed potatoes in the US. The consecutive 14ths of each month also have some type of ‘day’ assigned to them (ie. Rose Day on May 14th), but these are much more obscure.


Let me soothe your woes…  Image: Maangchi

In the spirit of Valentine’s Day, we asked some of our friends from around the world to give us a snapshot of what this day is like in their part of the world.

“In Taiwan, we also celebrate Valentine’s Day and White Day, but the days are opposite from Korea and Japan. Men give gifts during Valentine’s Day and women on White Day. Frankly, I prefer it this way!”
– Alice L., Taiwan

“For Valentine’s Day, I get at least 30 small boxes of chocolates. These go to basically all the men in my life – my boss, my colleagues, the teachers at my son’s school. It’s an opportunity to express thanks and friendship, and this gesture is rarely mistaken for anything more than it is. I do give a separate gift of chocolate to my husband but his is different – most likely something handmade and much more intricate.”
– Ahreum K., Japan

“That scene in Gossip Girl where Blaire had a small heart pinned to her sleeve made me laugh – it’s a tradition here for girls and boys to wear the name of their love interest on their sleeve on Valentine’s Day. Literally wearing your heart on your sleeve – I think this is where the expression comes from.”
– Yvonne Y., South Africa

“Valentine’s Day is somehow always a week or two before Chinese New Year and while it’s widely celebrated, it sometimes gets a little lost in the shuffle of the biggest holiday of the year, there’s just no comparison. These days White Day in March is becoming a ‘thing’ as well!”
– Sherry L., China

“Valentine’s Day is called Ystävänpäivä – which can be translated to Friendship Day. While some give gifts, flowers, etc to their significant others, mostly people give cards out to all of their friends. Pretty low key!”
– Cade B., Finland

Whether you’re planning a special event with the works, or whether you plan to have a casual evening at home – Valentine’s Day is the perfect time to send a little love – in your own way – to your significant other, friends and family.  For us? We’d like to take the opportunity to thank our customers for all the love & support – we couldn’t do it without you guys. 🙂


Get your glow on,
The Glow Recipe Team

P.S. Shop limited edition Valentine’s Day gifts here.

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