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Valentines Day Traditions South Africa | See Africa Today

Valentine's Day
Written by Abraham Odhiambo

Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, and we are about to see lovers going out of their way for each other to ensure a romantic and fun holiday. We all know the main theme of this day is romance, but have you ever wondered about Valentines Day traditions in South Africa?

To begin with, Valentine’s Day is celebrated on February 14 every year, and it is usually a big day for the greeting card industry. This is the day when most people purchase cards with heartfelt messages, share a candlelit meal with their partners, and even buy gifts for them.

Valentine's Day

Couples go on dates on Valentine’s Day. Photo/ Restaurant Clicks.

Before you go on learning the traditions of Valentines Day in South Africa, you should know the story of this festival. Even though the truth about the festival is murky, it is celebrated worldwide in the name of Saint Valentine. It is said that the mysterious saint was a priest who served during the 3rd century in Rome. 

At one point, emperor Claudius II announced that single men made better soldiers than married men, and as a result, he outlawed marriage for young soldiers. Valentine went against the law as he began performing secret marriages for young ladies.

When the emperor learned about Valentine’s actions, he ordered the saint to be put to death. Saint Valentine became popular, and lovers began celebrating Valentine’s Day as the day of love.  

What Do South Africans Do on Valentine’s Day? 

Like many other countries in the world, South Africa celebrates Valentine’s Day with flowers, cards, and other tokens of love. Going out on Valentines Day is one of the common traditions in South Africa, as it is customary for festivals and celebrations to be held throughout its cities.

Beach resorts usually get prepared with new decorations to stir up the Valentine’s Day spirit. Shops and markets are usually beautifully decorated, with most of them glowing red. Later in the day, some couples go to discos, pubs and restaurants, which are completely booked days before.

Valentine's Day

What Is It like on Valentine’s Day in South Africa? Photo/ Greater Good SA.

On this special day, it is a tradition for women to wear their hearts on their sleeves. They do this by pinning the names of their lovers or crushes on their shirt sleeves. Men also follow this custom in some parts of South Africa. However, it is very rare.

This tradition is literally called Lupercalia in honour of the ancient Roman festivals. It is thought to have been derived from the Lupercalia festivals, which involved a matchmaking lottery where the names of willing young women were placed in a jar and drawn by bachelors to form a pair. 

What Is There to Do on Valentine’s Day in South Africa? 

Putting aside Valentines Day traditions, there are plenty of things to do with your partner in South Africa. As a matter of fact, you’ll be completely spoilt for choice

Some of the romantic things to do include taking a cable car up Table Mountain and watching the sunset, experiencing a concert and picnic at the beautiful Durban botanical gardens and having “Dinner in the Sky” in Johannesburg. You and your partner can also experience a stunning hot air balloon ride.

What Are Some Traditions for Valentine’s Day? 

Sending heartfelt messages on Valentine’s Day is a tradition that dates back to the 15th century. During the French civil war in 1415, the Duke of Orleans was in prison in the Tower of London when he sent a romantic poem to his wife. Charles, who was at the time 21, referred to his wife in the poem as “my very gentle valentine”. 

Besides sending romantic notes, Valentine’s Day is also marked by small tokens of love, ranging from heart-shaped chocolates and red roses to home-cooked meals. Some couples decide to go out in the evening and pop a bottle of Champagne, while others make arrangements like red balloons. 

What Do Couples Do During Valentine’s Day?

Valentine's Day

Happy loving couple. Photo/ Lancs Live.

There is no big difference between Valentines Day traditions in South Africa and in other parts of the world. There are plenty of things to do on this special day, including making Valentine’s Day mug cakes together, reading romantic quotes and poems out loud and going out for a scenic walk. 

Couples can also have a coffee date, go ice skating, prepare dinner together, have a DIY spa day, learn a dance, watch the sunset, go to a wine tasting and sing love song karaoke together. 

But if you feel the pressure of Valentine’s Day is too much for you and your partner, you might just have a do-nothing day. Give yourself a break and relax at home without making any plans. Who knows how the day will end?  

About the author

Abraham Odhiambo

Abraham Odhiambo is a writer with interests in nature, travel, African safari and sports. I'm pursuing a bachelor's degree in Media and Communication at Egerton University.

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