Love is universal. It’s celebrated in many different ways and varying times of the year. Besides Valentine’s Day, certain countries have their own romantic notions of holidays that celebrate this feeling. Here are heartfelt examples of festivals and events that would make any traveler swoon.
Unlike the familiar concept of Valentine’s Day, February 14 in Finland focuses more on celebrating friendships than coupledom. Ystävänpäivä, or Friend’s Day, encourages Finns to not leave anyone out – single or otherwise. Pals, relatives, colleagues, neighbors and, yes, even sweethearts become givers and receivers in exchanging cards, flowers and chocolates.
Held usually during the summer, and often in August, this minor Jewish holiday celebrates one great aspect of love - marriage. Its origins go back to biblical times. To mark the start of the grape harvest, young single girls would dress up in white garments loaned to them and dance in the vineyard for potential matchmaking. Now in modern day living, Tu B'Av is considered to be a great day for weddings, proposals, vow renewals and commitment ceremonies.
Every September, around 30,000 people make the trek to a small mountain village called Imilchil to hopefully meet a future partner. Besides potential exchanges, this festival includes much feasting and celebration. It’s said that this village is the last resting place of Sidi Mohammed El Maghani, patron saint of the Ait Haddidou, and it is thought that any union blessed by him will be successful.
The spa town of Lisdoonvarna is the site for romantic hopefuls, adventurous singletons, and even area farmers who all gather for this six-week long, century-plus old festival that kicks off around the beginning of September. Along with seeking help from an on-hand traditional matchmaker, visitors can partake in Irish culture through local dancing and music events.
Though this destination recognizes Valentine’s Day, the giving and receiving of presents like chocolate is a bit unique. On Valentine’s Day, the ladies take the lead in giving these sweet treats to their men. But then a month later on White Day – March 14 – the reversed roles are re-reversed where Japanese males give females candy, jewelry or other romantic presents as a return gesture.
January 25 is marked for St. Dwynwen, a woman who is called a patron saint of lovers, particularly on her home island of Anglesey. Not being able to marry a man she loved because her king father forbid it, Dwynwen asked God for help in erasing her memory. Her prayer was answered, but it almost killed the guy. After begging God to spare her love, she devoted herself to religious life. The remains of her church are said to still be on Anglesey.
Every February 24, Romanians observe this festive date as the first day of spring, as it’s said to be around this time that birds begin to work on building nests to get ready to mate. Humans, too, as men and women traditionally would gather together, look for and exchange flowers with each other. The holiday is named after the son of the main character in a pagan myth relating to spring’s forthcoming.
What’s your favorite romantic holiday?
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As a kid flipping through the pages of National Geographic magazines, Michele Herrmann became hooked on learning about new places and cultures. As an adult, she's turned her love for writing and passion for travel into a career that's been full of adventure and surprises. Her work has appeared on Yahoo Travel, The Lost Girls, The Points Guy, ShermansTravel, Epicure & Culture, and Budget Travel. She also posts about travel from her own perspective on her blog, She Is Going Places. Follow Michele on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.
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