I'm a huge fan of Valentine's Day traditions, but doing the same things every single year can get old. And it's also not necessary when there are so many options. If it seems like the only activities on the table are gift exchanges and candlelit dinners, you may not be aware of all the romantic traditions in different parts of the world. Fortunately, with its team of local experts from a diverse assortment of countries, the language learning app Babbel knows quite a few.
One of the most fascinating things about exploring different cultures is seeing how dating traditions differ from place to place. Pickup lines, according to Babbel's team, provide one of the funniest examples. The Spanish will wax poetic and compare their love interests to chocolate, while the Germans take the indirect route and pull that painful "Did it hurt? Falling from heaven" line. (OK, Americans aren't great on that front either.)
Most recently, Babbel shared some of the unique, charming, elaborate, and occasionally risky traditions people outside the U.S. engage in on February 14. And they sound a lot more fun than getting a card. Here are eight you might even want to try yourself, wherever in the world you are. (Except the one where you marry the first person you see. I can't be held responsible for any divorces that come out of this.)
1Brazil: Pick Your Date's Name Out Of A Hat
In case you're having trouble deciding which of your Tinder matches to take out on Valentine's Day, you can leave it up to fate by putting all your prospects' names in a hat and pulling one out at random. According to this Brazilian tradition, the one you pick is the person you'll marry. But since that's pretty intense, you can just make them your date for the night.
2Denmark: Guess Who Wrote The Love Letter
The Danish write anonymous funny love poems called "joking letters," and the recipients have to guess who they're from. If they're right, the writer owes them an Easter Egg, which I'm not sure what to make of. It's not clear what they'd do with it, but at least it means they'll talk again?
3Ecuador: All-Encompassing Flower Exchange
People in Ecuador don't just treat Valentine's Day as a celebration of romantic love. In fact, the name, “el día del amor y dela amistad,” translates to “the day of love and friendship.” Accordingly, they give flowers to everyone they'd like to be a part of their lives throughout the next year.
4France: Yelling At Each Other From Widows
In a tradition called “une loterie d’amour” (“drawing for love”) that basically embodies Tinder IRL, people separate into a men's house and a women's house (heteronormative, I know) and call out to each other. Each guy picks the woman he likes best. Don't worry, the rejected ladies get their revenge: They burn pictures of the guys in a bonfire.
5Germany: Pig Statues
Germans present their Valentine's flowers and gifts on statues of pigs, because duh, they make the holiday so much cuter. They're also supposed to bring good luck.
6Italy: Marriage At First Sight
I'm not sure what's more pressure, this or pulling your spouse's name out of a hat. Single women in Italy used to wake up before dawn on Valentine's Day, and the first guy they saw was supposed to be their husband. Hopefully, they at least had a say in where they headed in the morning so they could try to bump into their crushes.
The Norwegians take the phrase "love birds" literally. They spend the day searching for mating birds, since they remind them it's spring and love is in the air.
8Wales: Giving Wooden Spoons
Rather than celebrate St. Valentine, the Welsh have their own saint, St. Dwynwen, and they honor him by giving their loved ones wooden spoons with elaborate designs. Why not? Hopefully, they spoon afterward.
So, instead of merely eating chocolates, we could be enjoying a day full of birdwatching, yelling out windows, burning pictures, and exchanging presents on pigs, spoons, anonymous poems, and friendship flowers. The holiday just got a lot more exciting.