Cool Valentine’s Day Traditions From Around the World That Wont Break the Bank

Celebrate a day of love with these fun, romantic ideas.

Has anyone else cringed at the sight of chocolates, pink teddy bears and heart-shaped things that have flooded stores since the start of the New Year? In the United States, stores stock their shelves with tons of Valentine’s Day-related items. But, not every country commercializes love.

With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, save some cash while celebrating your significant other by trying one of these meaningful traditions from around the world.


February 14 in Denmark calls for creativity, not cash. Men write their lovers romantic poems, love notes and heartfelt letters called “gaekkebrev.” Not sure about you, but this is something I could get used to. The message is signed with dots rather than a name. If the lucky receiver can correctly guess the name of the sender, she is gifted with an Easter egg that year.

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Cost: Free

Next Up: 10 Ways to Save Money on Valentine’s Day Flowers

South Korea

On February 14, women are expected to give their men small tokens of appreciation, such as chocolates or candies. On March 14, men cash out a bit more by giving their loved ones a gift — a holiday known as White Day. Those who were not able to participate in either holiday are left with Black Day on April 14 (the least expensive of them all, if you ask me), on which it is customary for singles to eat “jajangmyeon,” black bean-paste noodles. In South Korea, I feel like being single is a win — you save money, and you have an excuse to eat.

Cost: A box of chocolates, a gift or noodles

Dine In: Cook a Romantic Valentine’s Day Dinner for Two for Less Than $10


In Wales, the day of romance is called St. Dwynwen, after the Welsh patron saint of lovers. Here, the men opt for originality by ditching the chocolates and flowers and gifting their loved ones with wooden “love spoons” that they have intricately carved. Different patterns and symbols on the spoons represent different meanings. The inspiration came from the 16th century when sailors hand-carved presents for their lovers while at sea. I give the Welsh men major credit for giving a meaningful and possibly useful gift.

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Cost: Wood and carving utensils


The Chinese holiday Qixi is comparable to Valentine’s Day elsewhere. Stemming from Chinese folklore, during Qixi, women give offerings of fruits to Zhinu, the daughter of a mythological king, in hopes of finding a worthy husband. Couples also pray for happiness and prosperity at temples, and gaze at the stars at night on this day. Can it get more romantic than spending time together staring at the night sky?

Cost: Free

Check Out: Valentine’s Day Getaways for Every Couple and Every Budget

South Africa

At one point in your life, an older and wiser person probably told you to never wear your heart on your sleeve. This phrase has always been said to young adults in hopes of dodging heartbreak. Well, in South Africa they literally wear their hearts on their sleeves on February 14. Women pin the names of their crushes onto their sleeves. That’s one way for men to find out who their secret admirers are! I also wouldn’t mind if men pinned the names of the women they’re into instead … just saying.

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Cost: Free

Click through to read more about thoughtful Valentine’s Day ideas that cost $20 or less.

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About the Author

Latifah Al-Hazza

Latifah Al-Hazza received her bachelor’s degree in broadcast journalism from the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana and her master’s degree in journalism from the University of Southern California. Latifah has worked as an editorial assistant at CNN as well as a social media manager and editorial assistant at Frommer’s Travel Guides. Latifah now is a freelance travel journalist and the Cofounder of Femscape Sojourns, a boutique women’s travel company.

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