Valentine's Day but not as you know it: weird and wonderful traditions from around the world

Cheryl Minikes and Matthew Mandell, both 22, from Brooklyn, take the ultimate St. Valentine's Day plunge by getting married in a bathtub full of hot chocolate.
Cheryl Minikes and Matthew Mandell, both 22, from Brooklyn, take the ultimate St. Valentine's Day plunge by getting married in a bathtub full of hot chocolate. Copyright Timothy A. Clary/ AFP
Copyright Timothy A. Clary/ AFP
By Natalia Liubchenkova
Share this articleComments
Share this articleClose Button

See the funny side of Valentine's Day with this photo gallery of bizarre traditions and events from all over the world


St. Valentine's Day might not be everybody's piece of cake, yet it still remains popular after centuries. Originating from Europe, its celebratory traditions have spread further than we could have imagined. Turns out that people do a lot for February 14th, with some showcasing their romantic intentions in very peculiar ways indeed. Scroll down to see how the lovers' day is marked around the world.

The best lovers, officially

France took St. Valentine's Day seriously for years, holding the competition for lovers across the country with the winners' inaugurated at Paris' City Hall.

Intercontinentale/ AFP
Winning couples of the Valentine's Day Lovers Contest receive a prize in Paris on February 9, 1957. Miss Roberte Lacourte-Fourreaux's fiance was in Algeria at the time of the ceremony.Intercontinentale/ AFP
Winners at the Valentine's Day Lovers Contest pose on the podium in France in the 50's.AFP

Perfect spot

If you think Paris is a city of love - you might be right, but France also has its own Saint Valentine's village!

Liliane et Bernard, married since 47 years, pose in Saint-Valentin, center France, four days before the traditional Valentine Day. 10 February 2006.ALAIN JOCARD / AFP
Liliane et Bernard, married since 47 years, pose in Saint-Valentin, central France, four days before the traditional 14 February Valentine Day. 10 February 2006.ALAIN JOCARD/ AFP Photo

Love is like a box of chocolates... or even a bath of chocolates!

Chocolate is a big deal on St. Valentine's Day across countries, popular for both internal and external application.

Timothy A. Clary/ AFP
Cheryl Minikes and Matthew Mandell, both 22, from Brooklyn, take the ultimate St. Valentine's Day plunge by getting married in a bathtub full of hot chocolate at a boutique in New York, 14 February 1995.Timothy A. Clary/ AFP
Toshifumi Kitamura/AFP
Visitors enjoy bathing in the chocolate-spa pool at the Hakone Kowakien Yunessun in Hakone, 80-kilometre southwest of Tokyo. The Yunessun started a month-long-chocolate-spa from mid of January to attract visitors on the occasion of the 14 February St. Valentine's Day.Toshifumi Kitamura/AFP
Robyn Beck / AFP
Shoppers buy chocolates packaged in heart-shaped boxes to give to their sweethearts for Valentine's day in a shopping center in Beijing on February 13, 1996.Robyn Beck / AFP

Some extra luck for your marriage in Thailand

St. Valentine's is widely considered to be a special day for the couples to officially register their relationships. 99 couples married on 14 February 1999 in Bangkok.

A heart-shaped cut out stands in front of a department store in central Bangkok. Dozen of wedding one-stop shops started their new campaign for Valentine Day to attract lovers to use their business. About 99 couples married there on 14 February 1999. February 1999. Thailand.PORNCHAI KITTIWONGSAKUL / AFP
Photo by STR / AFP
A couple attached to a cable over a cliff show their marriage certificate on Valentine's Day in Pranchinburi province on February 14, 2009. Wedding over the cliff is being held as part of the celebration of Valentine's Day in Thailand.Photo by STR / AFP

Passion for shopping counts too

Chocolate boxes aside, retailers often encourage couples for some rather serious shopping, like this Apple store in Tokyo.

Kazuhiro NOGI / AFP
A couple checks their love fortune with a display of the new iMac computers at a showroom in Tokyo 13 February 1999 as part of a St. Valentine's Day event. Apple Japan offered the newly enhanced iMacs in five colors at 158,000 yen (1,400. USD).Kazuhiro NOGI / AFP

Love is in the hair

On St.Valentine's, everybody should feel loved, even if you turn your back to them. Half an hour hair designs were much in demand with fashionable Indian youngsters in 2000s as Valentine's Day approached.

Hairstylist Chetan Limbachiy paints the shape of a heart on the back of a clients head, 10 February 2000 in Bombay.SEBASTIAN D'SOUZA / AFP

Some serious opposition in India too

This holiday might not be for everybody, but some groups in India took their resistance to the extreme in 2000. Congress party supporters there went out on the protest, saying that Valentine's Day was alien to the Indian culture and encouraged promiscuous behaviour.

Women supporters of Congress party hold up placards calling on the Indian government to ban Valentine's Day during a demonstration to protest against the westernisation of Indian culture and heritage 13 February 2000 in New Delhi.ARKO DATTA / AFP
Congress party supporters burn Valentine's Day cards 13 February 2000 in New Delhi to protest against the westernisation of Indian culture and heritage.ARKO DATTA / AFP

The photographs from some years later showed the protesters didn't really succeed in killing the vibe of the lovers' day.

Indian workers fix a Valentine campaign billboard commissioned by Indian mobile phone operater Hutchison in Kolkata, 12 February 2007.DESHAKALYAN CHOWDHURY / AFP

'Mature love' appreciated

Love does not have age, culture ministry of Guatemala probably suggested organising a special event for elderly couples in Lima. 'Young hearts' the signature on the balloon reads.

Orlando SIERRA / AFP
A couple takes "the Love Ride", during a performance called "Mature Love", supported by the Culture Ministry at the historical quarter of Guatemala City, as part of the celebrations for Saint Valentin's Day. 12 February 2006.Orlando SIERRA / AFP

Good cause in Iraq

In 2011, protesters in Baghdad asked Iraqi leaders to love their country better.

Iraqis gather in Baghdad's Tahrir Square on February 14, 2011, as they hold a Valentine's Day rally to call on their leaders to love the war-battered country rather than rob its resources, an organizer told AFP.AHMAD AL-RUBAYE / AFP

Love is not a burden

The sport in which a male contestant carries his wife or lover through an obstacle race in the shortest possible time originated in Finland. In 2009 in a shopping mall in Hong Kong, eight contestants competed in a pre-Valentine's Day racing event.

Contestants pose for photos after taking part in the second annual wife-carrying competition at a shopping mall in Hong Kong on February 12, 2009.MIKE CLARKE / AFP

Opposites attract

The liaison of a ram named Changmao with a female deer named Chunzi at the Yunnan Wild Animal Park in China's Yunnan province hit the headlines in 2012. The local TV station reporting that attempts to separate the animals have been unsuccessful. The wedding for the couple was then planned on Valentine's Day.

This photo taken on February 11, 2012 shows a visitor taking a photo of a ram named Changmao, who has formed an inseparable bond with a female deer named Chunzi, at the Yunnan Wild Animal Park in Kunming, southwest China's Yunnan province.STR / AFP

Love for some, tough job for others

Some serious advertising efforts were expended at a marine theme park in Manila in 2009. Must be tough for the underwater Cupid, especially.

Three Filipino staff in scuba gear pose as Cupid and a couple inside a large seawater aquarium at a marine theme park in Manila Bay, Philippines. February 13, 2009. The park staged the stunt to attract more visitors on the eve of Valentine's Day.JAY DIRECTO / AFP

Literally taking the plunge

Over 200 couples participated in a community civil marriage organised on Valentine's Day in 2013 by the municipality of Comas, northeast of Lima, Peru.

Couples get married inside a public pool during a mass wedding on Valentine's Day in Lima, Peru. February 14 2013ERNESTO BENAVIDES / AFP

Love makes anything look better

A giant happy Valentine's day poster covered a construction site near a mosque in downtown Beirut in 2013. Valentine's Day was getting increasingly popular in the region as people have taken up the custom of giving flowers, cards, chocolates and gifts to sweethearts to celebrate the occasion.

A giant happy Valentine's day poster hangs on a construction site near a mosque in downtown Beirut. Lebanon. 14 February 2013.JOSEPH EID / AFP

Love breaks the rules

In Afghanistan, many Afghans are unaware of or don't mark Valentine's Day, but younger generations in urban areas are celebrating the day despite restrictions.

Aref Karimi / AFP
An Afghan resident carries a bouquet of roses as gifts to celebrate Valentine's Day in Herat province. February 14, 2015.Aref Karimi / AFP

It's all downhill from here...

Over 70 couples gathered to either wed or renew their vows during the ceremony which was officiated in 2017 by Minister Harry Heilmann, of the Universal Life Church.

Jason Connolly / AFP
Tucker and Karyn Brown pose for a portrait while celebrating their 10th wedding anniversary the 26th Annual Valentine's Day Mountaintop Matrimony held in Loveland Ski Area near Georgetown, Colorado. February 14, 2017Jason Connolly / AFP

Pink is the new black

Finding a trendy gift seems to be easy in Kuwait, where the shops were fully subscribed to the Saint Valentine's Day commercial vibe

A Kuwaiti man holds a heart-shaped balloon outside a shop in Kuwait City ahead of Valentine's day. 13 February 2020.YASSER AL-ZAYYAT / AFP
Share this articleComments

You might also like