When it comes to Valentine’s Day, we immediately think about indulging in chocolates and wine. But after these obvious ways, we wonder…
How is love actually celebrated around the world?
Compared to the United States, Valentine’s Day looks much different and is specially for couples who are passionately in love (in most countries), rather than celebrated with a group of friends or at primary school.
The traditions of Valentine’s Day are embedded in a long history with traditions from the ancient Roman Empire. Taking place on February 14, Valentine’s Day is a celebration commemorating the Queen of Roman gods and goddesses, Juno – the goddess of women, and also of marriage.
Romantic gestures, like giving gifts and going out for a lovely dinner, are common throughout the world. But from our Culture Guides, we know there’s a lot more interesting, country-specific traditions to explore! In the rest of the world, Valentine’s Day definitely doesn’t revolve around Hallmark cards and candies…
Known as ‘the city of lights,’ Paris is perhaps the first place that comes to mind when imagining romance. French are puritans when it comes to indulging, and they have a knack for quality, authentic products. It’s customary to enjoy rich, dark chocolates instead of sweet ones made with a lot of sugar and milk.
And when giving flowers, it’s important to know there’s some juju. Juju, or joujou in French means ‘plaything,’ and it’s a spiritual belief system that incorporates objects. The French seem to have a few ideas…
In France, it’s believed to give an odd number of flowers to bring good luck. And to also be careful about their color! Apparently red stands for passion and pink stands for fondness. Moreover, yellow symbolizes infidelity, and white – chastity.
Unfortunately as of last year though, it’s no longer a thing to attach a lock onto a bridge over the Seine River, and toss away the key wishing for long-lasting love.
Thailand’s capital, Bangkok, is known as the Venice of the East. It’s situated along the beautifully romantic Chao Phraya river. Bangkok also has a unique districted called Bang Rak, meaning “village of love,” and it’s the most popular district in the city for registering marriage licenses on Valentine’s Day.
For gifts, it’s actually really popular to give fresh fruit, like mango or sweet tamarind. There’s a delicious dessert in Thailand called sticky rice that’s served with fresh mango.
To make, stir cooked glutinous rice into a sweet coconut milk mixture, cover and allow to cool for 1 hour. To make the sauce, mix together 1/2 cup coconut milk, 1 tablespoon sugar, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and tapioca starch in a saucepan; bring to a boil.
It’s traditional to eat sticky rice in little wooden boxes, or just keep it easy and serve the rice on a dish.
Known as kow neuw, people in northern parts of Thailand eat sticky rice in place of long grain rice by forming little balls and dipping them into various dishes, like stewed meats and curries. Mango sticky rice is a variation of this, and a popular dessert during the early summer months when mangoes are in season!
Being the home of Romeo and Juliet, it’s no doubt that Italy is inspired by romance. On Valentine’s Day, there’s a four-day celebration in Verona with heart lanterns and free concerts in the Piazza dei Signori. There’s even a love-letter writing contest, which helps involve and honor more heart-broken lovers too…
But Verona has started to clamp down on tourists who visit the supposed meeting place of Romeo and Juliet! It’s popular to leave a sentimental note in the courtyard of Casa di Giulietta (where Juliet is said to have been wooed by Romeo), but now tourists can face a fine of $500!
With it’s deeply rooted culinary traditions of fresh pasta and sweet brioche cakes, it’s very popular to go out for a romantic dinner. Some towns offer romantic dinner specials at restaurants. Italians love meeting together around a dinner table and sharing stories. An enduring image in Italian art, the dinner table is a metaphor for how Italians love celebrating delicious food and great company. For them, dining is an opportunity to laugh, relax, and share stories.
Couples often give each other gifts of small, chocolate-covered hazelnut candies made by Perugina. They are filled with a sweet cherry liquid center, and the inside wrapper of these Baci candies has romantic poetry.
A beautiful Valentine’s Day phrase in Italian:
Con te ogni giorno e San Valentino. Grazie Amore!
(Every day with you is St. Valentine’s Day. Thank you, love!)
For Valentine’s Day, we collaborated with Conde Nast Traveler for an exclusive Amour Box inspired by a romantic date night around the world! It’s the perfect gift for a loved one and comes with delicious products from three of the world’s top destinations: France, Italy, and Thailand. Like with all of our boxes, there’s a Culture Guide including recipes and fun, cultural facts so you can enjoy a truly authentic and romantic date night at home.