Customs of courting: Valentines traditions around the world

Ever crossed your fingers? Counted magpies or exchanged cards on Valentine’s? How about casting a love spell to enchant your sweetheart?

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 guessing by slipping them a cheeky Kiss Me Quick Wash Card? Made from pressed apple pulp and infused with essential oils and absolutes, this sensually scented soap paper is an alternative to perfuming your skin with a liquid fragrance. Under the heat of warm water, a stimulating clove bud oil and floral mimosa steam rises, while a background of sugary tonka absolute makes this fragrance completely irresistible - 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.

Wear your heart on your sleeve and make your love known by gifting your Valentine a Heart Of Enlightened Expectation bubble bar melt. Crumble this rich bubble bar under warm running water and cosy up under a blanket of deep, fragrant bubbles. An inspiring and balancing combination of florals - classic rose blends with sensual jasmine absolute and sweet geranium.

Don’t have a Valentine? You don’t need one, treat yourself to this indulgent bubble bar, close the door on all those lovestruck couples and enjoy some quality ‘me’ time.  

They love me, they love me not

From the French game ‘effeuiller la marguerite’, meaning ‘pluck the daisy’, this playground classic involves picking petals from a flower while saying the words “They love me, they love me not.” The last petal removed will reveal whether or not your true love’s feelings are mutual.

Uncover your fortune with Tisty Tosty, a spellbinding bath bomb with seven revelatory rose buds embedded in the middle. Drop this fairytale infusion of woody orris root powder and tender rose into the bathtub and whisper the name of the person you wish to cast a spell on before saying the following:

“Tisty Tosty tell me true,

Who will I be married to?”

Stir the bathwater clockwise three times and place one rose bud on each corner of the bath. Remove the remaining roses one by one while uttering the words “They love me, they love me not.” Now you know your destiny, lay back and unwind in your bed of roses.

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, make a wish with Tunnel Of Love soap instead. A vibrant mix of zesty lime, sweet wild orange oil and earthy olibanum, this lively soap also contains deeply cleansing kaolin clay and gentle rose water. Scrub down with citrus lathers and fall head over heels in love with this sunny scent.

Pick of the bunch

Oh come on, we couldn’t talk about Valentine’s Day without mentioning roses could we? A classic addition to any bridal bouquet and synonymous with romance and beauty - roses have always been highly revered for their elegance. Appearing throughout art, literature and history, the rose can be found in ancient Egypt, where wreaths of roses were stacked on tombs and in Greek and Roman mythology as the symbol of Aphrodite, or Venus, the goddess of love.

If you’re looking for an alternative to the big bouquet, woo your special someone with Rose Bombshell - a bath bomb bursting with yellow rose petals. Beneath intoxicating rose absolute and rose oil is a lighter undertone of invigorating Sicilian lemon and sweet geranium oils. This uplifting love potion is sure to put a smile on someone’s face.

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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