Valentine’s Day Worldwide Traditions 

Close up of hands of two mature grandparents making a heart shape with their fingers together. Smiling and having fun in love people.
Close up of hands of two mature grandparents making a heart shape with their fingers together. Smiling and having fun in love people.

Valentine’s Day is a day of love nestled in the middle of February. Sweethearts use Valentine’s Day as an opportunity to show the people they care about just how deep those feelings run. A 2023 survey from the National Retail Federation found consumers expected to spend $25.9 billion on Valentine’s Day, up from $23.9 billion in 2022. Forecasters suspect spending is likely to increase this year as well.  

Valentine’s Day is awash in many different customs. Here’s a deep look at some of those enduring traditions and others that some may feel should be brought back into favor or adopted entirely. 

Handwritten Cards 

It’s a common scene each year in card retailers and pharmacies: people three-deep in the aisle trying to pick out Valentine’s Day cards in the eleventh hour. People can save themselves the hassle of fighting the crowds if they make their own handmade cards. In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, sweethearts created unique cards from scratch, according to Country Living. And prior to products produced by Hallmark and other greeting card companies, people used to send one another cards customized with personalized messages. 

Pampering Gentlemen 

It is common in North America for Valentine’s Day celebrations to lean significantly toward favoring women, who are often on the receiving end of flowers and chocolates. However, in South Korea and Japan, it is the men who are pampered with such gifts. Women purchase chocolates for their male partners, family members and coworkers as tokens of appreciation and affection. Never fear, a month later on White Day (March 14) men reciprocate with candy, cake and flowers. 


These days a dozen long-stemmed red roses might be the norm for Valentine’s Day gifting. However, roses weren’t always the preferred flower for the holiday. reports that, in the nineteenth century, bouquets might contain all sorts of flowers, each chosen to convey certain messages. Individuals can research the meanings behind certain flowers and put together a Valentine’s Day gift this year that expresses exactly what they are feeling. 

Puzzle Purses 

Sweethearts in Victorian England created “puzzle purses,” which were a series of love letters that could be read separately, but also fit together to create a design and message. These intricately folded sheets of paper had parts of messages or verses written on different corners and were meant to be read in a specific order. 

Heart-Shaped Chocolate Boxes 

British chocolatier Richard Cadbury is credited with creating the first heart-shaped box for Valentine’s Day. The boxes were intended to be so beautiful they would be kept to hold trinkets or love letters. Ornate chocolate boxes are not quite as common today, although the gifting of chocolate for the holiday is still strong. 

Celebrating in June? 

Many Brazilians skip Valentine’s Day in February and choose to celebrate Saint Anthony, the patron saint of marriage and matchmaking, on June 12. Celebrating both is fine for those who prefer to shower affection on loved ones multiple times a year. 

Valentine’s Day traditions are still strong and can add a little something extra to celebrations this February. (MC)

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