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Customs of courting: Valentine's traditions around the world

Ever crossed your fingers? Counted magpies or exchanged cards on Valentine’s? Have you ever made a wish on a shooting star?

We all have our own traditions, and rituals - even when it comes to something as simple as how we make a cup of tea. But this Valentine’s Day, why not switch up the usual flowers and chocolates routine?

While there are many theories over where the tradition of sending letters and cards to loved ones on Valentine’s Day came from, perhaps the most romantic is that of Saint Valentine. Legend has it that the Roman Emperor Claudius II forbade his soldiers from marrying as he believed that married men made worse soldiers. Valentine, a Roman priest, conducted marriages in secret, believing this to be unfair, but when Claudius discovered this he sentenced Saint Valentine to death. According to Rosemary Guiley in The Encyclopedia of Saints: “On the morning of his execution he supposedly sent a farewell message to the jailer’s daughter, signed “from your Valentine.” No matter how much truth is in this tale, this seems to have been the catalyst for this sentimental tradition.

Take a look at some other starry-eyed Valentine’s traditions from around the world and put your own modern spin on these quirky customs.

Play your cards right

Originally intricately handmade designs, Valentine’s cards became popular in the Victorian era. But with the introduction of new printing techniques, beautifully printed cards became a favorite way for people to reveal their feelings on Valentine’s Day.

An unusual take on the Valentine’s card - in Denmark it is customary for admirers to send ‘Gaekkebrev’ which loosely translates to ‘joke letters.’ Usually a witty rhyme written about your sweetheart on elaborately cut paper, the letters are signed with a series of dots - one for each letter of the name. If the recipient successfully guesses who the sender is, they are awarded with an Easter egg on Easter Sunday. If they do not guess, an egg is owed to the sender of the letter, who reveal themselves after Valentine’s Day. Why not keep your Valentine on their toes by slipping them a Love Token reusable bubble bar? With bubbles of warming ginger and clove bud they’ll want to snuggle up to you all night as the cleansing pine needle absolute makes your feelings crystal clear - a token of affection that is sure to get you noticed.

Wear your heart on your sleeve

Formerly an ancient Roman festival, South Africa have put their own spin on the celebration ‘Lupercalia.’ It is traditional for men and women to pin the name of their lover on their sleeve - an endearing way for secret admirers to disclose their affections. But if you don’t feel like taking the subtle approach, give your Valentine a bolder confession of your feelings with an Aubergine bath bomb. Go big with bergamot and sweeten them up with tonka absolute, it’s not the size of the package after all, it’s what you do with it.

Don’t have a Valentine? You don’t need one, treat yourself to one of these juicy fruits, close the door on all those lovestruck couples and enjoy some quality ‘me’ time.  

Take a trip through the tunnel of love

A notoriously picturesque tourist spot, The Tunnel of Love in the Ukraine is a backdrop for many photographs. Part of an industrial railway, passing trains have formed the trees that line the tracks into a dreamy hallway of green. Many believe that if a couple make a wish here then it will come true if their love is sincere.

If it’s a little last minute to take a trip to the Ukraine, turn your bathroom into a tunnel of love ride instead and set sail in your very own Love Boat. A vibrant mix of zesty Sicilian lemon, organic wild orange and romantic rose oils, this lively bath bomb floats around on the surface of the water, spreading love wherever it sails. Float away in citrus waters and fall head over heels in love with this sweetly sunny scent.

Feeling friendly

In Finland and Estonia, February 14th is dedicated to celebrating friendship instead. Whether you’re members of the lonely hearts club, you are single and ready to mingle or even if you’re just not that bothered by romance, why not treat your bestie or even just yourself to something special? Set sail to warm waters and take yourself on holiday with Love Island body scrub. Tropical lemon and sunny bergamot oils whisk you away to a peaceful desert island as sand gently buffs and polishes skin. Rose absolute adds a romantic floral touch while jasmine brings a bit of passion to this love story. Self-love is important too after all!

Break with tradition

Give some old traditions a new lease of life this year and raise your Valentine’s game with the gift of steamy showers, sensual soaks and mushy massages. Whether you are telling a long-term crush how you feel, showing a friend how much you value them, or simply treating yourself, you can find more goodies and gift ideas here


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