St. Valentine was a priest in Rome around the third century. He performed secret marriages for young lovers after emperor Claudius II announced that single men made better soldiers than those with families and wives, and he outlawed marriage for young soldiers. When Claudius II found out about Valentine’s actions, he ordered that the saint be sentenced to death.
The first Valentine’s Day card was sent in 1415 and since then the celebration of love has conquered the world - in a slightly different way in each country.
In Hungary, Christians celebrate St. Valentine’s Day on February 14th every year. Like with most European countries, Hungarians give flowers, cards and chocolates to their loved ones.
In the Czech Republic young people celebrate Valentine’s Day on May 1st when they go on a pilgrimage to the statue of the poet Karol Hynek Macha, and kiss under the cherry trees for good luck.
In Denmark, Valentine’s Day is a relatively new festival and couples celebrate it with a twist. Friends and lovers exchange “snowdrops”, handmade cards with pressed white flowers.
On March 15th, the “Sisters’ Meal” festival is celebrated in South West China. On this day, women wear silver accessories and beautiful dresses. Young women cook various dishes of colored rice that’s offered on silk fabric to young men walking on the roads. The object found in the chosen rice tells the destiny of the lovers. Two chopsticks mean love and a clove of garlic means the love is over before it has even begun.
Valentine’s Day celebrated in the most unique way is probably in Wales. The country celebrates its day of love on January 25th, which is called the “day of San Dwynwen.” Since the 16th century, lovers have given unique and beautifully handcrafted wooden spoons to each other.
You can find other interesting traditions here.