Valentine’s Day Around the World

Valentine's Day Around the World Featured Image 1

I have never been too keen on Valentine’s Day.  In my opinion it has always been an overpriced, over-exaggerated day of red and pink things you will probably toss a few days after.  (Unless it’s chocolate, then it’s a yummy excuse for indulgence).

When my husband I started dating, we decided that neither of us wanted to buy into the holiday.  I would much rather he surprise me with flowers than have him feel forced to pay twice as much one day a year. Then we married one fabulous February 4th. Now we have our own romantic day right before prices sky rockets.  That sounds good to me.

Now that the kids are in school, Valentine’s Day is in full swing in their lives. Crafts and treats and all kinds of things red and white and pink are back in my life. I love crafts, so making fun things with my loves is not a problem at all.  My only issue is if it is a good idea to teach them to let this “holiday” consume them as much as it consumes American culture. I decided to research if and how other cultures view the actual day marketed as Valentine’s Day, February 14th. Thanks to some of my Multicultural Kids Blog’s fellow bloggers, I found out some interesting things.

The day is not only for couples in love in many Latin American countries; in fact it is a day to show appreciation to all of the special people in your life. It is known as “Día del Amor y la Amistad” (Day of Love and Friendship) in Mexico, Columbia, Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic to name a few.  I may be a little biased because I am from Mexico, but I do feel that celebrating everyone you care about gives the day so much more meaning.

Similarly, other countries celebrate friendships more than significant others. One of those is Finland.

Rita Rosenback from Multilingual Parenting wrote about the custom in Finland:

It is called Ystävänpäivä which translates to “Friend’s Day” and you remember your friends and family as well as your partner. I recall my daughter giving me a really sweet card, which she had “made” at nursery (she was 11 months old). Well, at least she had done some scrunching and probably gluing and it looked something like this:

multilingual parenting heart

Don’t you just love the crafts kids make from the heart? That is such a lovely sentiment.

In countries like India, the holiday has caused a division between those with traditional values and those that have accepted some Western traditions into their lives.

Shruti of Artsy Craftsy Mom wrote:

Valentine’s Day is a borrowed tradition in India. We have two sets of people:  the young who follow and spend lots of rupees buying gifts for their wives / girlfriends / husbands / boyfriends and the old who condemn it and shake their heads at it. It’s actually fun.

At home, my husband buys flowers. We gift each other if we remember to buy it. Kids usually don’t celebrate it at school but the fad has reached them too and we make heart shaped crafts. It’s all in fun. We don’t plan it in detail.

In the Philippines, Valentine’s Day is called Araw ng mga Puso (“Hearts Day”), In Portugal it is more commonly referred to as “Dia dos Namorados” (Lover’s Day / Day of the Enamoured). In Spain It is “San Valentin”. Yet out of all of the countries, Singapore is known as one of the countries who buy the most elaborate gifts on Valentine’s Day.

Japan’s celebration of the date might be the most interesting one I found. On February 14th, women will gift different types of chocolates to all of their men in their lives. From friends to family, significant others or even men they don’t care much for.

The most romantic chocolates of all are the “honmei-choko” (本命チョコ) which means “favorite or true feeling chocolate”. It is given to boyfriends and husbands. If the woman wants to show a little extra love she can even make her own chocolate. These are called “honmei-choko” and are for extra special men.  If the gift is “giri-choko” (義理チョコ) which translates to “obligation chocolate”, then the recipient is someone the woman works with or for, someone they go to school with, a friend the woman has no romantic interest in or a man in their family.  There is even a chocolate called “chō-giri choko” which means it is an “ultra-obligatory” chocolate. It is a cheap chocolate for those the women are not fond of. Ouch. But don’t worry, ladies, the chocolate companies did not forget about us, they have added “tomo-choko” (友チョコ). “Tomo” means “friend” and the women can now give these to their friends as well.

In return, the men offer the same types of gifts made of white chocolate on March 14th for White Day.  Both of these traditions are also followed in South Korea.  And even more interesting is that Taiwan does the opposite of these two for their celebrations.  The men gift the women on February 14th while the women gift the men on March 14th! Cool!

Even with so many countries adopting the Western world’s way of celebrating Valentine’s Day, it is still fun to hear how other countries make it their own. That said there are also many other cultures celebrate love on different days and have festivals to go with them.  Some countries do not celebrate it at all and even arrest people if they try to celebrate Valentine’s Day.  But wherever you are and whatever you do, don’t forget to show those you love and care for just how much every day!

Here are a couple of craft ideas to help make the day your very own.

10 Kid Activities for Valentine’s Day

From Frogs and Snails and Puppy Dog Tails, Jaime Fspdt has a wonderful link to DIY Valentine’s Day Crafts from last year:

“10 Kid Activities for Valentine’s Day Recap 2014”



Valentine’s Day Coupons For Kids

Maria Babin of Trilingual Mama has a great idea on making coupons that you can make for your kids. I think that these are a wonderful way to make a kid feel special, especially when they can cash in a coupon with no questions asked. You can even make your own to fit your family.  Here is the link so you can print out her fabulous ones:

“Valentine’s Day Coupons for Children”



I Love You in French

Also from Trilingual Mama and if you are feeling adventurous, you can even learn the different ways to say I love you in French. How fun is this?

“Love Makes the World Go Round in Paris”



And here is a little Mexican craft from me:

Papel picado heart

Austin Moms Blog-Malu-Valentine's Day Crafts-Papel Picado

Here is what you need:

  • Construction paper
  • Scissors

I love the papel picado (pierced paper) crafts from Mexico.  I know it is mainly used during Christmas, but I decided why not add it to another holiday.  I cut out large hearts out of each sheet of construction paper.  I then folded it up as much as I could without making it too thick for little hands to cut through. I drew some shapes on the folded parts and let the kids cut the shapes. This is great activity for motor skills. Let them open up the paper themselves to unfold their creations. My kids loved seeing what they made themselves. If you have older kids, you can do this with tissue paper as well. It would be more authentic that way and look beautiful. Mine seem to have an obsession with tearing tissue paper into tiny little pieces I tend to find weeks after they got their hands on it.

Finished product

Austin Moms Blog-Malu-Valentine's Day Crafts-papel picado final

Have a wonderful day full of love, my friends!

All information (besides the crafts and unless directly quoted) can be found on

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I am a bilingual mama sharing my journey in a multicultural world. I love learning fun ways to teach my babies how beautiful this world can really be. Please join me in learning how to show them how to make their bilingual eyes shine even brighter.

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