Plaza Voices: Celebrations of Love

Our regular contributor Naghem S. writes:

The origin of Valentine's Day is not clear. The popular story is that it honors St. Valentine, who was martyred on February 14, late in the third century. Others say the holiday is based on the ancient Roman celebration of Lupercalia. Some say Chaucer just made it up. While not everyone celebrates Valentine’s Day, people around the world celebrate love and relationships through different holidays.

In the Philippines, Valentine’s Day is  a popular day for mass weddings where hundreds of couples marry in unison. These events are often sponsored by the government as a form of public service. 

In South Korea, love is celebrated every month on the 14th. In May it’s Rose Day, in June it's Kiss day and in December it's Hug Day. My personal favorite is Black Day in April, when single people dress in black and come together to eat Jajangmyeon, black bean noodles.  

In Wales, love is celebrated on January 25th, St. Dwynwen’s Day. Beautifully carved spoons, known as lovespoons, are exchanged. These spoons are usually decorated with symbols of love like hearts and lockets. 

In contrast to some countries, men are the ones who receive chocolates on Valentine’s Day in Japan. They return the favor on March 14th, known as White day, where they gift their loved ones with white chocolate. Not everyone is into it.

In South Africa, some young people will pin the name of their crush to their sleeve for all to see, and In Argentina, an entire week is set aside in July to celebrate “Sweetness Week,” when kisses are exchanged for sweet treats.

The Chinese holiday known as Qixi takes place on the seventh day of the seventh month on the Chinese lunar calendar. The holiday commemorates a tragic tale of star-crossed lovers who were allowed to reunite only once a year. Couples exchange handmade gifts, and single folks prepare fruit in hopes of future love. 

In Estonia it is friendship, rather than romantic love, that's celebrated on February 14th as Sõbrapäev, or “Friendship Day,” and the same thing happens in Finland where the celebration is known as Ystävänpäivä.

“The day the birds are betrothed”, Dragobete, is celebrated on February 24th in Romania. This holiday is a celebration of love and a time to welcome Spring.

Holi is a Hindu festival celebrating love, friendship, and the beginning of Spring in India. It occurs every year on the vernal equinox. During the festival, people throw brightly colored powders and are encouraged to express love and repair friendships. This festival is meant to be a time of fertility, love, laughter, and forgiveness.

No matter the holiday or where you are in the world, remember to love your fellow man. Love, laugh, and forgive.

Recommended books:

Holi / by Rebecca Pettiford

A short history of Valentine's Day / by Sally Lee

The world holiday book : celebrations for every day of the year / Anneli Rufus

Celebrations of light : a year of holidays around the world / by Nancy Luenn 

What are your holiday traditions celebrating love or friendship? Please share with us in the comments!

Plazas are an open community space where immigrants from all over the world connect with people, information, and resources, building Denver’s global community. Come to practice a language, prepare for citizenship, pursue your goals, and create your future. Whatever you’re doing, we can help! Please see our events calendar for more information.

Written by Amma R. on February 14, 2018


Omar on February 21, 2018


I like the information. If I ever travel to any of this places I will try to remember how and when they celebrate Valentine's Day!!

Isabella on February 23, 2018


I think I'm going to travel to different countries every Valentine's Day...

Lisa M on February 23, 2018


Thanks for sharing these wonderful traditions. If we added more of these celebrations, this country would be a happier place.

Elvis Estonia on June 26, 2018


I think im going to Estonia