We celebrate love all over the world; love is the only true universal language.
As Erich Fromm, a German social psychologist said, “Love is the only sane and satisfactory answer to the problem of human existence.”
Though not all countries celebrate Valentine’s Day, all over the world people show their love in different ways throughout the year.
Here are nine ways cultures around the world express love, and how you can learn to express your love in different ways, inspired by languages of love around the world.
Send a love letter made out of beads like Zulu lovers in South Africa
In Zulu culture, colorful beads are used to communicate between young men and women, with different colored beads representing different feelings. For example red means anger and blue surrounded by yellow represents pining.
If a girl likes a boy, she can send him a love letter in beads, called ‘ucu’. After the two have been dating for a while, the boy can then ask the true meaning of the beads. To express your love through Zulu cultural traditions, make your loved one a beaded bracelet or necklace, and let them guess the meaning of the beads.
Have a month-long Valentine’s Day like the Japanese
In Japan, Valentine’s Day is spread out for a month. On February 14th, women will give homemade chocolates to the men in their lives, but will create a special ‘honmei-choco’ (prospective winner chocolate) for the object of their affection. One month later, the chosen man should give the woman his own chocolate gift in return, expressing his love.
Celebrate like the Japanese by spreading out the love for a whole month; you could make a batch of chocolates and give one to your lover every day, until the day he returns the favor.
Celebrate Love Day with the birds in Romania
In Romania, Dragobete, or ‘Love Day’ is celebrated on February 24th, and is thought to be the day that birds get engaged, birds being the messengers of God. The name Dragonbete comes from a Romanian mythological character similar to that of Cupid, a celebrator of love. In nature, this date is around the time that birds begin to mate and build nests, so boys and girls celebrate this by exchanging gifts and chocolates.
Celebrate your love with the birds by swapping February 14th for February 24th.
Love your community as they do in Mexico
In Mexico, Valentine’s Day is more about celebrating love as a community, rather than the traditional one-on-one love. On February 14th, Mexicans have a holiday called El Dia del Amor y Amistad, where women bake for friends and neighbors, and men bring balloons and sweets.
Instead of having a one-on-one date, or being alone this Valentine’s Day, why don’t you invite your friends, family and neighbors around and hold a party to celebrate all of the people who are important in your life.
Go after the first one you see like the Scottish
Some singletons in Scotland spend the day searching for their Valentine’s day date. How does this work? Well, the first man or woman spotted on the street by the person looking for a date becomes their Valentine for the day. Whether or not the unsuspecting object of affection wants to be their Valentine is up for question.
If you want to incorporate the Scottish tradition into your Valentine’s Day, you could use it as inspiration to meet someone special. Go up to the first person who takes your fancy and offer to buy them a drink; you never know where it could end!
Take part in China’s Qixi Festival
In China, they have their own version of Valentine’s Day, the Qixi Festival, which comes on the seventh day of the seventh month on the lunar calendar. It is a day in which the sense of union through working as a couple is celebrated, and it is an important day for weddings. In China, they are more likely to celebrate strong family ties rather than showing physical of verbal affection and the day praises the women’s roles as homemakers and wives.
Celebrate like the Chinese by spending the day doing an experience that you both enjoy and that strengthens your relationship, like a day trip or something adventurous, rather than spending money on gifts or chocolates.
Celebrate Man’s Day and Woman’s Day with Iceland
Icelanders are more likely to celebrate Man’s Day and Woman’s Day, which falls on certain dates according to the old Icelandic calendar. On those days, food, gifts and displays of affection are exchanged on those days, similar to our Valentine’s Day.
On February 12th, the capital city of Iceland, Reykjavik celebrates ‘Museum Night’ where all the museums and music venues stay open until midnight.
Celebrate love like an Icelander with special days for each partner, and enjoy some culture by visiting a museum or seeing a live band together.
Decorate a spoon to signify unrequited love like the Welsh
In Wales, St. Dwynwen’s Day falls on January 25th. On this day Welsh men carve lovely, touching designs on wooden spoons and give them as gifts to the object of their affection as a sign of unrequited love. The idea harks back to ancient Welsh lore, celebrating love and affection. The story goes that Princess Dwynwen fell in love with Maelon, but they were not able to be together. Angry, the Princess fled to the woods and received a potion from faeries that turned Maelon into an eternal block of ice. That is a serious metaphor.
Give your loved one a decorated spoon this year, or, if you don’t fancy a spoon, use this Welsh tradition as an excuse to make your Valentine a homemade gift.
America and England
In the USA and England, Valentine’s Day is celebrated on February 14th and lovers and secret lovers give romantic gifts to the objects of their affection. Valentine’s Day gifts such as chocolates, jewelry, roses and teddy bears are the traditional gifts, though many people use this day to go on a date to a fancy restaurant. Children are encouraged to make Valentine’s cards and send them in secret.