While we think love should be celebrated year-round, there’s no doubt that Valentine’s Day is the one day out of 365 that’s truly, madly, deeply dedicated all things heart-shaped.
But it’s neither the oldest nor the only day devoted to love. From Brazil to Wales, days honouring love span far and wide. Here’s how and when others celebrate love across the globe.
Latin Americans are well-known for their fire as much as their passion, so it’s no surprise the Brazilian day of love falls in the heart (and heat) of summer. Lovers Day is on June 12th , the eve of St. Anthony's Day, the patron saint of marriage.
Also known as Dia dos Namorados, the day sees single women perform rituals known as simpatias, in hope that they will soon meet their prince and ride off into the sunset. Couples celebrate the day with flowers, gifts and a ‘date night’, similar to our Valentine’s Day.
The Chinese celebrate love with the Qixi Festival, which falls on the seventh day of the seventh month of the lunar calendar. The festival dates back around 2,000 years and tells the story of The Weaver Girl and the Cowherd. The folktale goes that the young couple’s forbidden love ends in a forced separation but they are allowed reunite once a year on —yep, you guessed it—the seventh day of the seventh month. In 2017 that day falls on August 28th.
Qixi is so popular that there are often mass weddings on the day, with 77 (notice a pattern?) couples tying the knot at the same time in the same venue. Those celebrating look skyward to witness the reunion of the stars Vega and Altair, which represent the star-crossed lovers from the tale.
Tu B'Av, considered Israel’s original holiday, celebrates love and dates back to Biblical times.
Traditionally, Jerusalem’s unmarried daughters would dress in white and dance in vineyards to celebrate the beginning of the grape harvest season. Today Tu B'Av is celebrated much like Valentine’s Day with flowers, chocolate and gifts. This year it begins at sunset on August 6th.
April 23rd marks the Catalonian celebration of Saint Jordi's Day, a traditional festivity blending culture with romanticism. The festival is derived from a mix of traditions from different times in history, combining the legacy of Sant Jordi, the patron saint of Catalonia, and the famous legend of St George and the dragon.
Celebrations of Saint Jordi’s Day are popular in Barcelona and the Catalonia region, and consist of the tradition of men giving women roses and women giving men books.
In Wales, January 25th is St. Dwynwen's Day, the day to honour the Welsh patron saint of lovers and 4th-century Welsh princess, Dwynwen. The prettiest of 24 daughters, legend has it that she’d fallen in love only to discover her father the King had already promised her hand to another.
Understandably heartbroken, Dwynwen fled to the woods to weep and pray. God granted the princess three wishes, one of which was to help the fate of all true lovers. In gratitude, she devoted herself to religion, became a nun and founded a convent on Llanddwyn Island, Anglesey (which you can still visit today).
The Welsh celebrate the day in the same way as we do Valentine’s; chocolate, flowers and lovespoons, intricately carved from wood and decorated with symbols. Find out more here.