Bored of the usual sending a card or flowers to your secret crush? Make like the residents of one of these countries and celebrate 14 February with something a bit more different...

1. Japan

In most countries, men are expected to buy Valentine’s gifts for women. But not in Japan.  Women are expected to spoil blokes on 14 February by giving them presents to express their love. Chocolates are the most popular item, a tradition started in 1936 when a manufacturer, Morozoff Ltd, took out the first ever ad in a newspaper in the country. A month later, on 14 March, men are expected to return the favour by giving gifts to women on ‘White Day’.

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iStockphoto

2. Estonia

Here, Valentine’s Day is seen as more of a celebration of friendship than a schmaltzy love-fest – in fact the name it’s known as, ‘Sobrapaev‘, literally translates to ‘Friend’s Day’. Estonians typically present their mates with cards and gifts. However despite this, as in the UK, 14 February is also a popular day to get engaged or tie the knot.

3. Wales

Say it with a…spoon? It sounds a bit barmy, but one traditional gift is a ‘love spoon’. The tradition started in the 1600s, with men carving intricate spoons as a token of affection for women they loved. Different patterns on the spoons would mean different things, for example keys, which would symbolise the keys to a man’s heart, or horseshoes wishing good luck to the recepient. Today, the spoons are also exchanged on other special occasions, for example weddings, anniversaries and birthdays.

4. The Philippines

Want to tie the knot but you’re a bit shy? Why not share your nuptials with hundreds of other couples? In the past few years these mass wedding ceremonies have gained popularity with Filipinos – and many take place on the day of love, of course! These usually take place in malls or other public areas, like parks and beaches. In 2013, 4,000 couples across the country were married in this way.

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iStockphoto

5. Ghana

As little as 20 years ago, Ghanians didn’t really celebrate Valentine’s Day. But this has changed – and it’s now a popular holiday. Influenced by how they were celebrated in Western countries, Ghanian youth began handing out cards and presents. In 2007, the government of Ghana declared the day ‘National Chocolate Day’ in order to generate more sales and income for the country’s cocoa. Many people spend the day eating dishes from special chocolate menus and celebrating the sweet treat. Sounds like something we can really get behind…

6. Denmark

For the Danes, it’s all about the written word on Valentine’s Day. Men give women a letter known as gaekkebrev, or ‘joking letter’, which consists of a funny poem written on intricately cut paper and signed only with dots, to keep things anonymous. If a woman who receives one of these correctly guesses who sent her it, she will get gifted an Easter egg a month or so later.

7. South Africa

How about wearing your heart on your sleeve? That’s what people do in South Africa. They follow a Roman tradition called ‘Lupercalia’, where women pin the names of their crushes on their shirtsleeves. This is how men in that country learn of their secret admirers.

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iStockphoto

 

Which of these traditions will you try this year? Let us know in the comments below…