In Japan, it's all about spoiling your man on Valentine's Day and not the other way around like in most Western cultures. Japanese women are usually said to be reserved and shy when it comes to expressing their affections with lovey-dovey gestures. However, on this day, the women are in the forefront presenting the men in their lives - and sometimes even female friends - with gifts, mostly chocolates, to express either their love, courtesy or social obligation.
While on Valentine's Day itself the men sit back and enjoy the treats presented to them by women, they reciprocate on "White Day" which falls on March 14 by presenting women with gifts like lingerie, jewellery, clothing, as well as chocolates. The unspoken rule is that the chocolates they give in reciprocation should be at least two or three times higher in value than the ones they received on Valentine's Day.
Adapted from the Japanese tradition of Valentine's Day, women in South Korea too spoil their men with chocolates on this day. In return, they receive gifts on White Day from men, in a similar fashion as in Japan.
Taiwan also has a White Day where gifts are given to reciprocate the gifts received on Valentine's Day. In Taiwan, however, the tradition is reversed. Unlike the Japanese/South Korean tradition, it is the men who shower women chocolates and gifts on Valentine's Day while the women respond on White Day with flowers and other gifts for their admirers or male partners.
Denmark and Norway
Largely imported from the west, Valentinsdag, as Valentine's Day is known in these Scandinavian countries, was not very widely celebrated until more recently. However, they have still managed to come up with their very own quirky little tradition that the locals have embraced and made popular on this day. Gaekkebrev are funny little poems or rhyming love notes that men send to women, anonymously, on Valentine's Day, giving them only a clue as to the number of letters in the sender's name, represented by a dot for each letter. The recipient must then guess who sent her the card. If she guesses correctly she wins an Easter Egg on Easter later that year. But if she's stumped as to who her secret admirer is, she owes him an egg instead, which is collected on Easter.
Finland and Estonia
Platonic love: Finns show their appreciation for friends on Finnish Friendship Day, or "Ystvn piv", which also falls on Feb 14. Platonic love: Finns show their appreciation for friends on Finnish Friendship Day, or "Ystävän päivä", which also falls on Feb 14. HERE Valentine's Day is more a celebration of friendship rather than a romantic love fest. Feb 14 is called Ystävän Päivä in Finnish and Sõbrapäev in Estonian, which literally translate to "Friend's Day". People exchange cards and gifts among friends with the greeting of "Happy Friend's Day". It is however, a popular day to tie the knot or get engaged.
In the 1700's, on the eve of Valentine's Day, single women used to place or pin five bay leaves on their pillows - one at each corner of their pillows and one in the centre - with the belief that it would bring them dreams of their future husbands. Another variation of this tradition was to sprinkle bay leaves with rosewater and lay them across their pillows saying "Good Valentine, be kind to me, In dreams, let me my true love see". Now mostly considered a folklore, this tradition is not widely practised anymore and can only be seen once in a while.
Dubbed one of the most romantic countries in the world, France too, to no one's surprise, houses a strange Valentine's Day tradition. Their most popular tradition is called uneloterie d'amour that translates to "drawing for love". This practice involves single men and women of all ages entering houses that face opposite each other and taking turns calling out to one another until they are paired off. If the men do not like their match, they will simply leave the woman for another man to call. As part of the tradition, the women who don't get matched up will get together for a big ceremonial bonfire in which they toss pictures and objects of the men who rejected them, while swearing and hurling curses at the opposite sex. This tradition truly exemplifies the phrase "Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned!" so much so, that the French government officially banned the practice all together because of how rowdy and uncontrollable the whole event usually got.