From Japan To Iraq, Estonia to Finland: Valentine’s Traditions From Around The World

Illustrated by Mary Galloway.
What would you do if your beloved gave you a wooden spoon on Valentine's Day?
Although you might be confused if you're used to chocolates in a heart-shaped box, if you happen to have grown up in Wales, that would be perfectly normal. Young men there typically present "love spoons" to their paramours, a tradition inspired by Welsh sailors creating homemade gifts for their sweethearts while at sea. The "love spoon" exchange, along with many other global Valentine's Day traditions, shows that old-fashioned romance isn't dead.
Countries around the world have one-of-a-kind customs that range from Estonia's "love bus" rides for singles to mass weddings in the Philippines. While the actual practices can vary in date and target audience (some traditions specifically celebrate the singles among us!), citizens of many countries set aside time to commemorate some sort of commitment. In some places, the difference in approach to the day is even more stark, as public displays of love and affection are outright banned on February 14.
While you probably won't want to adopt all of the cultural customs we've featured in the slides ahead, you might just find some inspiration for your own Valentine's Day plans here at home. And keep the love of creative approaches to the holiday going by sharing your own traditions in the comments.

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