Celebrating Valentine's Day in Tokyo: International Inspiration
Celebrating Valentine's Day in Tokyo: International Inspiration
Do you feel the love in the air? That’s right, it’s almost Valentine’s Day! After the ongoing trials and tribulations of the last couple of years, we all deserve a special day to connect with those we love.
Last year, we brought you cute, crafty and tasty ways for the whole family to celebrate Valentine’s Day in Japan. This year, we thought we’d share Valentine’s traditions from around the world as inspiration for your own celebrations! Our multiculturalism is a big part of what makes the CareFinder community vibrant and unique, so why not pay homage to our global representation? Get ready for some quirky, kind and surprising celebrations of love and friendship around the world!
If this is your first Valentine’s Day in Japan, you’ll recognize most traditions. Flowers, chocolates and heartfelt gifts between couples are common. However, contrary to some norms, it’s often expected that women gift men all the attention! Male bosses can also expect to be showered with gifts from their female employees (so don’t get jealous if your husband comes home overflowing with treats!). Men return the favor on White Day, conveniently dated March 14.
A day for lovers? More like a day for winemakers! On 14 February, Bulgarians celebrate St. Tryphon on Trifon Zarezan and it’s a magical mix of love AND wine. The best wine producer is gifted with a crown of vines, while couples toast to their love with a glass of local wine.
If you want to honor this Bulgarian tradition (and who wouldn’t?) in Tokyo, you can pick up a bottle or two at Wine Market Party at Ebisu. The shop has lots of options to choose from, plus wine accessories and accompaniments. If you’re more interested in a night out, Bunon (which means “grape” and “drink”) pairs delicious Japanese dishes with an array of wines – starting at just 500 yen a glass!
Valentine’s Day in Estonia, known as Sobrapaev, is all about inclusivity. Anyone from neighbors to lovers is included in this celebration of closeness and affection. For couples ready to take the next step in their relationship, it’s also a popular day for proposals! But as we said, no one in Estonia is left out on Valentine’s Day, so even single folks have a reason to celebrate. They can hop aboard the Love Bus and try their luck at meeting their next Valentine!
If you’re flying solo in Tokyo, one popular way to meet new people who share your hobbies and interests is through MeetUp! Whether you want to go hiking, play soccer or discuss philosophical quandaries, there’s a MeetUp group for you. No need to wait for Valentine’s Day to make new friends!
While chocolates on Valentine’s Day are pretty commonplace, Ghana kicks this tradition up a notch by celebrating National Chocolate Day on 14 February. This was started by the Ghanaian government in 2007 as a way to increase tourism. That’s not a particularly romantic reason but, hey, who doesn’t want an extra special excuse to enjoy both love and chocolate?
While we can’t guarantee Ghanian chocolate at African Home Touch, a West African restaurant in Roppongi, you will definitely find some traditional Ghanian foods! Be sure to try the Jollof rice, Kenkey or tilapia.
Valentine’s Day in South Africa brings a festive mix of traditions. Like many classic celebrations around the world, couples can enjoy romantic dinners, sweets and the exchange of gifts. However, a surprising dash of ancient Rome still spices up this holiday. In an ode to Lupercalia, a festival celebrated in the ancient Roman empire in mid-February, South African women may pin their love interest’s name on their sleeves in a proud display of affection.
What better way to flaunt your own sweetheart than with a custom necklace, ring or maybe a backpack? Celebrate Valentine’s Day, South African-style, with a personalized gift from Etsy. There’s a wide array of options no matter how you choose to show off the one you love.
United Arab Emirates
The UAE is no stranger to the romance of Valentine’s Day; couples enjoy classic traditions such as exchanging gifts and roses. However, in a country known for often being over-the-top, many hotels and restaurants go the extra mile to offer couples an unforgettable experience when celebrating their love. One exclusive Valentine’s Day experience gifted couples a magical dinner under the stars in the middle of the desert!
While it’s pretty tough to see the stars in and around Tokyo, you and your sweetheart can still imagine you’re in the Arabian Desert. There are several planetariums in the city. One of the coolest and newest is the Konica Minolta Planetaria in Yurakucho. Whether you plan a date night or take the whole family, the oversized seats make for a very cozy way to take in the night sky, any time of day.
Saudi Arabia only began celebrating Valentine’s Day last year! Previously, shops were prohibited from selling flowers and wearing red was a no-no. But now, dining guides and rose bouquet orders are the new norm as excited couples, friends and families alike prepare to freely celebrate love!
In the spirit of experiencing new things and expanding horizons – and also falling in love with new foods – we highly recommend the annual Furusato matsuri! Held in the Tokyo Dome from 10 February to 23 February, it is a one-stop-shop for the food, drink and festivities unique to many of Japan’s “hometowns.” Perfect for a Valentine’s Day date or as an excursion for the whole family.
Fitting with classic Western traditions, Valentine’s Day in Canada centers on couples and romantic love. Sending gifts, cards and sweets to a current partner or love interest is par for the course, as are decorations in the iconic colors of pink and red!
For your Valentine’s Day, consider another Canadian tradition: ice skating! While hockey is the national sport, we wouldn’t necessarily recommend a match against your sweetheart. But if you’re looking for a few turns around an ice rink followed by a warm drink and some cuddles? Tokyo has several places to check out!
Much like Estonia, Mexico celebrates Valentine’s Day, known as Dia del Amor y la Amistad, as a special time for friends, family and lovers alike. Romantic traditions and gestures (such as the quintessential rose exchange) are shared among couples, but there is also an intentional celebration of non-romantic love as well.
Valentine’s Day in Mexico is the time to purchase your loved ones a giant, colorful bunches of balloons. Recreate the tradition in Tokyo with a stop at Tuxedo Bear in Nishi Azabu (or order online). You can get a bunch of Buzz Lightyear or Frozen-themed balloons for the kids, traditional red and pink hearts for your Valentine, or even a giant T-Rex for the dino lover in your household.
In the Philippines, Valentine’s Day is the perfect excuse to go over the top; the holiday is the occasion for mass wedding ceremonies. Yes, you read that right, mass wedding ceremonies. The Philippines takes the cake for romantic Valentine’s gestures thanks to couples reserving February 14 as a special day to gather in public areas (including government-sponsored galas) and get married or renew their vows. We are talking about hundreds of couples joining together to publicly commemorate their affection! Now that is undeniably a day of love.
While you may not be into the idea of sharing your big day with hundreds of others, if you’re looking to get hitched in Japan, or reaffirm your vows, there’s no shortage of unique places to do so. It’s probably too late to schedule your Valentine’s Day ceremony this year, but if you’re planning ahead, we highly recommend a fairytale wedding at Tokyo Disney!
Across the world, gifts and treats are a hallmark of Valentine’s Day celebrations, and we have a great article for DIY inspiration! No matter how you choose to celebrate, CareFinder’s community of babysitters is here to help.
Since we have many sitters from overseas, you can also ask about their own cultural traditions for Valentine’s Day. Connecting with your sitters is an excellent way to discover even more about celebrations of love and friendship around the world! Find a sitter here.