Valentine Traditions Around the World

Valentine Card, 1909, Shows Pagan Ties


Since many observe Valentine’s Day, this post will cover some of the traditions of it around the world and where some came from. Notice the following:

February 14, 2014
Many countries have their own particular traditions and customs on February 14 and here’s a selection:


Originally, Italians celebrated Valentine’s Day as the Spring Festival…Also, there is a traditionof giving chocolate to loved ones and Italians believe that in this case, size does matter- the bigger the chocolate, the stronger the love you will have.


The French like to think of themselves as the most romantic people in the world, and it’s often claimed on Gallic shores that the first Valentine’s Day card originated in France when Charles, Duke of Orleans, sent love letters to his life while imprisoned in the Tower of London in 1415.

United Kingdom

Valentine’s cards are often sent anonymously in the UK, a tradition dating back to Victorian times…


Valentine’s Day celebrations in Estonia have their own twist: February 14 is called “Friend’s Day”, so single, lovelorn people don’t feel left out.


couples in China rushed to make their marriages official, as Friday marked both Valentine’s Day and the Chinese Lantern Festival. The two celebrations fall on the same day only once every 19 years.

United States

In the United States, the National Retail Federation expects people to spend more than $17 billion this year on candy, cards, flowers and other mementos marking the occasion.

Valentine’s Day is banned in Saudi Arabia and discouraged in other Islam-dominated lands.

February 14, 2014

In Pakistan, Malaysia and other mainly-Muslim countries, many consider Valentine’s Day to be un-Islamic and discourage the celebration of it. In Iran and Saudi Arabia, Valentine’s Day is banned. Hindu extremists in India have also opposed the day.

But, some still observe it in the Islamic-dominated lands–which is why some have taken steps to reduce the influence of this essentially pagan holiday.

Notice something from NPR:

Valentine’s Day is a time to celebrate romance and love and kissy-face fealty. But the origins of this festival of candy and cupids are actually dark, bloody — and a bit muddled…

From Feb. 13 to 15, the Romans celebrated the feast of Lupercalia. The men sacrificed a goat and a dog, then whipped women with the hides of the animals they had just slain.

The Roman romantics “were drunk. They were naked,” says Noel Lenski, a historian at the University of Colorado at Boulder. Young women would actually line up for the men to hit them, Lenski says. They believed this would make them fertile.

The brutal fete included a matchmaking lottery, in which young men drew the names of women from a jar. The couple would then be, um, coupled up for the duration of the festival — or longer, if the match was right…

Later, Pope Gelasius I muddled things in the 5th century by combining St. Valentine’s Day with Lupercalia to expel the pagan rituals. But the festival was more of a theatrical interpretation of what it had once been. Lenski adds, “It was a little more of a drunken revel, but the Christians put clothes back on it. That didn’t stop it from being a day of fertility and love.”

Around the same time, the Normans celebrated Galatin’s Day. Galatin meant “lover of women.” That was likely confused with St. Valentine’s Day at some point, in part because they sound alike.

While I am glad women are no longer subject to public whipping on this day, the holiday still is not on Christian origin.

The Catholic Encyclopedia states:

The popular customs associated with Saint Valentine’s Day undoubtedly had their origin in a conventional belief generally received in England and France during the Middle Ages, that on 14 February, i.e. half way through the second month of the year, the birds began to pair. Thus in Chaucer’s Parliament of Foules we read:

For this was sent on Seynt Valentyne’s day
Whan every foul cometh ther to choose his mate.

For this reason the day was looked upon as specially consecrated to lovers and as a proper occasion for writing love letters and sending lovers’ tokens. (Thurston, Herbert. “St. Valentine.” The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 15. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1912. 14 Feb. 2014 <>.)

I would add that the practices began earlier than the Middle Ages with origins in a pagan sexual lottery. At least The Catholic Encyclopedia essentially admits this did not come from the Bible.

As alluded to earlier, in countries like the USA, Valentine’s traditions include giving cards, flowers, and chocolate, often with symbols that are supposed to represent Cupid or some type of love.  Food and alcohol are sometimes also involved.

Here is more information on some of the origins of a few of the traditions:

Your Valentine’s Day checklist probably includes chocolates, cards and a dozen red roses. So how did all this start?…Ancient Romans celebrated the feast of Lupercalia on Feb. 13-15. The feast involved animal sacrifices and whipping women, thought to make them more fertile…

But the first direct connection between St. Valentine’s and the idea of love comes much later, in the poetry of Geoffrey Chaucer, says Andy Kelly, an English professor at the University of California-Los Angeles, who wrote the book “Chaucer and the Cult of St. Valentine.”

Chaucer, best known for “The Canterbury Tales,” wrote a poem called “Parliament of Foules (Fowls)” in 1381 to honor Richard II’s engagement, Kelly said.

In the poem, St. Valentine’s Day is celebrated on May 3 — not Feb. 14 — and represents “the day when all the birds choose their mates for the year,” Kelly told USA TODAY Network.

“Quickly afterwards, within a generation, people took the idea of celebrating of St. Valentine’s as a day of love,” Kelly said.

The St. Valentine whom Chaucer was probably referencing was St. Valentine of Genoa, who died on May 3 and whose feast day was celebrated on May 2, according to Kelly’s book…


The British Museum in London has a Valentine dated from the 15th century, but it wasn’t until the mid-19th century when Valentine-giving became popular in England, said Ann C. Colley, a distinguished professor of English at SUNY-Buffalo State…


Chocolate has long been considered an aphrodisiac, said Alexandra Leaf, a culinary educator and founder of Chocolate Tours of New York City, in an interview with USA TODAY Network.

Starting in the 17th century, when cacao beans were first brought to Europe from Mexico and Central America, Europeans associated the food with stories about Montezuma and his many wives, Leaf said…

“There’s a carryover of the aphrodisiac notion that would make it appropriate for Valentine’s Day,” Leaf said…


The cherub-faced Cupid we recognize today was originally something quite different.

In the 5th century, the Greek version of Cupid, Eros (the inspiration for the word “erotic”), was depicted as a tall young man, who was “athletic, heroic and had wings,” according to Angeline Chiu…Chiu said Cupid’s transformation into a baby can be credited to Renaissance art…

Red roses

In the 18th century, Charles II of Sweden introduced the idea of flowers symbolizing emotions or messages carrying non-verbal messages, according to

Today, red roses stand for passionate love, pink roses for friendship, white for purity, and both red and white mean unity, said Jennifer Sparks, spokeswoman for the Society of American Florists, in an e-mail to USA TODAY Network.

Valentine’s Day is not an actual Christian holiday, even the Church of Rome no longer officially honors it, see Valentine’s Day: Its Real Origins, though Pope Francis promoted it today.  Actually, in the photo of him encouraging Valentine’s Day at, Francis was holding a red rose.

It comes from paganism and the Bible warns against engaging in pagan practices. Notice:

29 When the LORD your God cuts off from before you the nations which you go to dispossess, and you displace them and dwell in their land, 30 take heed to yourself that you are not ensnared to follow them, after they are destroyed from before you, and that you do not inquire after their gods, saying, ‘How did these nations serve their gods? I also will do likewise.’ 31 “You shall not worship the LORD your God in that way; for every abomination to the LORD which He hates they have done to their gods; for they burn even their sons and daughters in the fire to their gods. 32 Whatever I command you, be careful to observe it; you shall not add to it nor take away from it (Deuteronomy 12:29-32, NKJV).

2 Thus saith the LORD, Learn not the way of the heathen, and be not dismayed at the signs of heaven; for the heathen are dismayed at them. 3 For the customs of the people are vain: for one cutteth a tree out of the forest, the work of the hands of the workman, with the axe (Jeremiah 10:2-3, KJV).

29 …abstain from things offered to idols (Acts 15:29, NKJV).

14 Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? 15 And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? 16 And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God. (2 Corinthians 6:14-16)

9 What am I saying then? That an idol is anything, or what is offered to idols is anything? 20 Rather, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice they sacrifice to demons and not to God, and I do not want you to have fellowship with demons. (1 Corinthians 10:19-21)

While there are many traditions and practices, none who profess Christ should observe this February 14th “holiday”–it simply is not a Christian holiday.

For more information, please consider studying the following:

Valentine’s Day: Its Real Origins Christianity Today suggests that Valentine’s Day is good for Christians to observe. Is this true?
Should Christians Observe Valentine’s Day? This is a YouTube video about the origins of Valentine’s Day and why real Christians should not observe it.
Is There “An Annual Worship Calendar” In the Bible? This paper provides a biblical and historical critique of several articles, including one by WCG which states that this should be a local decision. What do the Holy Days mean? Also you can click here for the calendar of Holy Days.
Are the Ten Commandment Still in Effect? This article quotes the ten commandments and combines some of the previous articles into one article about the ten commandments. The commandments are shown at Mount Sinai, before Mount Sinai, in the teachings of Jesus, after the crucifixion, and in the teachings of Paul. It addresses the most common “traditions of men” regarding them as well.
Were the Pharisees Condemned for Keeping the Law or Reasoning Around it? Many believe that the Pharisees were condemned for keeping the law, but what does your Bible say? If they were not condemned for that, what were they condemned for?
The Ten Commandments Reflect Love, Breaking them is Evil Some feel that the ten commandments are a burden. Is that what Jesus, Paul, Peter, James, and John taught?
Was the Commandment to Love the Only Command? Some have stated that John’s writings teach this, but is that what the Bible really says?
The Ten Commandments and the Early Church Did Jesus and the Early Church keep the ten commandments? What order were they in? Here are quotes from the Bible and early writings.
The History of Early Christianity Are you aware that what most people believe is not what truly happened to the true Christian church? Do you know where the early church was based? Do you know what were the doctrines of the early church? Is your faith really based upon the truth or compromise?

Get news like the above sent to you on a daily basis

Your email will not be shared. You may unsubscribe at anytime.