What's a 'Gaekkebrev?' Valentine's Day Traditions from Around the World

Have you ever given a loved one a spoon?

Photo: REX/Shutterstock

Ah, Valentine’s Day. An annual scam/celebration of love and cards and chocolate and dinner at White Castle.

But it’s not like that everywhere! No, in some other countries, it’s about poetry! It’s about friendship! It’s about spoons! Okay, okay, hang on, we’re getting ahead of ourselves. Here now are some of the ways Valentine’s Day differs around the world.

Denmark & Norway

Denmark and Norway imported Valentine’s Day very recently, but quickly put their own unique twist on the holiday: Poetry! Men send women “gaekkebrev,” which are poems or rhyming love notes, anonymously. Cute, right? This is where it gets complicated: The only clue women are given to the sender’s identity is a series of dots, one for each letter in the sender’s name. If they guess correctly, they win an egg. On Easter. If they guess incorrectly, they owe the sender an egg. Makes sense.

Saudi Arabia

Oh, they don’t have it. They banned it in 2008. The law also banned the color red. And roses. Womp womp.


In Finland and Estonia, Feb. 14 is more about celebrating friendship than romantic love. In Finland, it’s called Ystävänpäivä!


The Welsh St. Valentine’s Day is actually called St. Dwynwen’s Day, and it takes place on Jan. 25. People exchange spoons, though it’s kind of unclear why … it might have something to do with sailors? It does date back quite some time – the earliest dated “love spoon” is from Wales and was carved in 1667.


In Japan, it’s tradition for women to give men chocolates instead of the other way around. Eventually, something called “White Day” was established on March 14, a day when men repay the favor, albeit with white chocolate. (Get it?)

The Philippines

They have mass weddings. 4,000 couples got married at once in 2013; 700 in 2015. It’s unclear if the roots of this are an economic thing – the one in 2015 was organized by a government agency and paid for by the local government for underprivileged couples – or if people in the Philippines just like large-scale demonstrations, like that “Thriller” dance in prison.

South Korea

12 Romantic Korean Couple’s Holidays to Celebrate

By Koreaboo

Couples rejoice as the 14th of every month marks a romantic holiday in South Korean culture. While you’ve probably heard of the few well known celebrations, others may be new to you.

The 14th of every month is dedicated to celebrating love in South Korea. January is Diary Day, when couples give each other blank diary pages; April 14 is Black Day, when single people get together to eat black noodles in the hopes of meeting someone; August 14 is Green Day, when you drink soju out in nature. South Korea: serious about StarCraft and love.

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