Love Rituals Around the World and for Relationship Success

February 8, 2024
IONS Communications Team

Valentine’s Day. What feelings do the day of love evoke for you? We all relate to it differently, depending on relationship status, past experiences, and whether we see it as an expression of authentic love or excessive consumerism. 

In this article, we’ll look at some unexpected traditions and rites from around the world. We’ll wrap up with five rituals you can implement into your life for more love. Let’s dive in!

Valentine’s traditions around the globe

Valentine’s traditions vary around the world. Valentine’s Day stems from the Roman tradition Lupercalia. During Lupercalia, on February 15, young men stripped to their birthday suits – then ran around and spanked young women, allegedly to increase their fertility.

With the arrival of Christianity, Lupercalia slowly transformed into Saint Valentine. Legend has it that the Roman Emperor Claudius II banned marriages, because married men were less likely to want to go to war. A priest named Valentine didn’t like this ban, and went on to perform illegal marriages. 

Sadly for the lovers, Valentine got busted and was executed on February 14. Who would have guessed that the day of love had such blood-stained origins? 

1. United States

In the United States, the display of love often takes material forms on Valentine’s Day. Chocolate, flowers, jewelry, and cards are the most common gifts, and the Americans don’t hold back – 18 billion dollars are spent annually! 

2. South Korea and Japan

In these East Asian countries, February 14 is reserved for celebrating men. Husbands, friends, and coworkers are pampered with chocolate. Women have to wait until a month later, on March 14, when they’re celebrated with cake, candy, and flowers. This day is called White Day.

But the type of chocolate matters. Husbands, boyfriends, or crushes get honmei-choco, the most expensive and luxurious chocolate. Giri-choco translates into “obligation chocolate” and is given to platonic connections, like friends or colleagues. Cho-giri choco is “ultra-obligation chocolate” reserved for unpopular men. Ouch.

3. The UK 

In the UK, couples often go big on February 14 by having dream dates. During the day, gifts are exchanged. At night they enjoy a romantic, candlelit dinner at a cozy restaurant or at home.

4. Finland

If you’re single, consider booking a trip to Finland on Valentine’s Day. Here, the day is not a celebration of romantic love but friendship. It’s even called “Friend’s Day” (Ystävän Päivä). The official gift of the day is a pink rose. People also exchange candy, gifts, and cards with their pals.

5. Peru

In Peru, roses are swapped for orchids, which are native to the country. Many couples choose to get married on Valentine’s Day, so in many places, mass weddings are held. 

6. Brazil

If you’re Brazilian, you need to be patient. Brazilians don’t celebrate love on February 14 – they wait until June 12. June 12 is the day of Saint Anthony, the saint of marriage and matchmaking. 

7. Argentina

Argentinians don’t stick to one day. On top of February 14, they dedicate an entire week (between July 13 and July 20) to revering love. During that week, lovers exchange kisses for candy.

8. France

France is known as a romantic country, but used to have pretty brutal customs: each Valentine’s Day, they organized a loterie d’amour, a lottery of love. Singles lined up in houses facing each other: men on one side and women on the other. They then called each other through the windows and paired up. 

The women who ended up without a partner held a ceremony where they burned images of men who had rejected them and yelled insults into the sky. Since the practice turned quite savage, the government decided to ban it.

9. Norway and Denmark

In these Scandinavian countries, Gaekkebrev is a tradition where lovers write anonymous love letters to their love interest. The ritual starts with folding the paper and cutting intricate patterns into it so it almost looks like lace. It’s then decorated with poems and a pressed white flower (Snowdrop). The sender remains anonymous but leaves a clue in the form of one dot for each letter in their name. 

A gaekkebrev isn’t reserved for lovers, though – it can also be sent to friends and relatives. The receiver then guesses who the sender is. If they guess right, the sender owes them an Easter egg on Easter. If not, she has to buy an egg for the sender.

10. The Philippines

Every year on Valentine’s Day, hundreds or even thousands of couples gather to get married in a mass ceremony. Often, the government sponsors these marriages to allow underprivileged couples to walk down the aisle. 

11. Slovenia

In Slovenia, Saint Valentine is the patron saint of spring. February 14 marks the first day of working in the fields for the new year. It’s believed that on this day, the plants start to regenerate and come to life again. 

Legend has it that the birds “propose” to each other on this day. To witness this ceremony, you have to walk barefoot through the fields – that are still frozen. 

The official love celebration day, which is more like February 14, is March 12, Saint Gregory’s Day.

12. South Africa

South Africans celebrate the traditional way – with flowers, gifts, and chocolate. But it doesn’t stop there! They literally wear their hearts upon their sleeves. Young girls pin the name of their beloved and wear it on their sleeve for the day (this comes from the Roman tradition Lupercalia mentioned in the intro – but in a more polished version).

Rituals to bring more love into your life

Rituals can sound complicated, but they don’t have to be. A ritual can be anything you bring into your life and fill with intent, devotion, and repetition. When you ritualize, you simply assign a deeper meaning to something. 

And when we put intention and meaning into something, we help the energy of that experience move. This facilitates positive change. It’s helpful if you want to establish a new habit, start a project, or undertake a life change.

An example is to light a candle daily for a month while focusing on a wish you want to bring into your life. Every time you focus on that wish, you reinforce it in the noetic realms and increase the chances of bringing it to fruition in the physical world.

Here are some love rituals to try out: 

1. Letting go of a past lover

Whether you’re mourning a recent breakup, or a long-lost love, February 14 can feel a bit heavy (if you’re not in Finland). The following ritual is best done during a waning moon. 

  • Start by writing a goodbye letter to the person you’re releasing. Don’t blame, but rather, share your inner world: the pain, the abandonment, whatever you feel. 
  • When you’ve finished your letter, burn it in a safe place. 
  • Sit in silence and take a moment for yourself.
  • For the coming month, write down five things per day that make you feel fantastic. 
  • When you’ve completed your list, place it at the base of a white candle. Light the candle as a symbol for your healing. 

2. Calling in a partner

This ritual will help you call in a soulmate! 

  • Write down 3-5 keywords that explain who you are. 
  • Next to it, write down 3-5 keywords you’d like in an ideal partner, for example: honest, reliable, and humorous. You can base your list on past partners or lovers to see what you liked in them, and what you’d want to avoid in the future.
  • Keep this list close to you, and look at it daily. 
  • When the time feels right, and you’re prepared to call in your soulmate, you can do a ritual around it. If you live by the coast, set the list to sea around full moon. You can also place it on your altar. 

Deepening the bond with your partner

If you’re in a relationship, this simple ritual will help you feel closer and bring more love into your daily lives. 

  • Start by setting the stage: light candles, use incense or essential oils, and put on soft music. 
  • Then, both of you take 5 minutes to write down what you love about your relationship, and another 5 minutes to note what you’d want more of. Frame it all in the positive. Examples: I’d love to have more dinner dates, I’d love to take 10 minutes every day to talk with no screens.
  • Ideally, make this a monthly ritual to help you grow and evolve together.

Loving yourself and building self-esteem

To deepen the most important relationship in your life – the one with yourself – you can use a practice called confidence shower: 

  • Stand in front of a mirror.
  • Set a timer for 1 minute.
  • Shower yourself in praise and love! 

At first, it may feel uncomfortable and strange. But with time, you’ll appreciate it and even believe it, as your subconscious mind has gotten used to the praise, and what’s familiar is often unconsciously taken as truth. 

This ritual is crucial for all your relationships – because you can only love others to the extent you love yourself. 

Everyday practices with your partner: L-O-V-I-N-G

This acronym LOVING helps remind you of key ingredients in healthy interactions, that you’d want to bring into your relationship as much and as frequently as possible. 

L: Laughter

O: Openness

V: Vitality

I: Individuality

N: Non-defensiveness

G: Generosity 

The more you can infuse these aspects into your relationships, especially those of a romantic nature, the more they’ll thrive!

Wrapping it up

As we’ve seen, Valentine’s love rituals vary between different countries and cultures. Which ritual would you like to make a new tradition? 

While these rituals can be fun to experiment with, and most people enjoy getting gifts, it’s important not to forget their essence: to experience more love in our lives, every day, in every interaction. After all, that’s why we’re here on Earth.

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