February 14 is recognised as Valentine's Day the world over. This day is associated with romantic love, an occasion in which lovers express their love for each other by presenting flowers, offering chocolates, and sending greeting cards.
Valentine's Day custom developed in early modern England and spread throughout the Anglosphere in the 19th century. In the later 20th and early 21st century, the custom spread to other countries as well. (AFP)
Valentine’s Day is a time when people show feelings of love, affection, and friendship.
In Albania, Valentine's Day is seen as a very special day to express one's love for the other. The whole country is lit up and beautifully decorated with the colour of love - red.
In photo: Trees are decorated with heart shapes in Tirana on Valentine's Day on February 14 (AFP)
Valentine’s Day is not a designated public holiday in Australia. Restaurants, theatres, coffee shops and shops selling Valentine’s Day related products are particularly busy on this day.
In photo: A girl kisses her stuffed toy in front of a partition wall full of Valentine's Day messages at the Darling Harbour in Sydney. (AFP)
In recent years, Romania has also started celebrating Valentine's Day. This has drawn backlash, from several groups, institutions and nationalist organizations who condemn Valentine's Day. In order to counter the perceived denaturation of national culture, Dragobete, a spring festival celebrated in parts of Southern Romania, has been rekindled as the traditional Romanian holiday for lovers. Its date used to vary depending on the geographical area, however nowadays it is commonly observed on February 24. The holiday is named after a character from Romanian folklore who was supposed to be the son of Baba Dochia. His name has been associated, possibly through folk etymology, to the word drag ("dear"), which can also be found in the word dragoste ("love").
In photo: Romanian "Dragobetele" being celebrated (AFP)
In South Korea, women give chocolate to men on February 14, and men give non-chocolate candy to women on March 14 (White Day). On April 14 (Black Day), those who did not receive anything on February 14 go to a Chinese-Korean restaurant to eat black noodles and lament their 'single life'. The 14th of every month marks a love-related day in Korea, although most of them are obscure.
In photo: Railing covered in padlocks featuring romantic messages overlooking the Seoul city skyline.
Valentine’s Day is not something that the Czechs traditionally celebrate and is seen by some as an import of the 1990s. Still, Prague is considered one of the world's most romantic cities and one of central Europe's most romantic destinations to celebrate Valentine's Day.
In photo: Two men dressed in costumes of angels pose with small, plush heart on Valentine's Day, at the Old Town Square in Prague. (AFP)
In the Philippines, Valentine's Day is called "Araw ng mga Puso" in much the same manner as in the West. It is usually marked by a steep increase in the price of flowers, particularly red roses.
In photo: Giant heart-shaped arch set up in Manila's Rizal Park to mark Valentine's Day. (AFP)
The concept of Valentine's Day was introduced in Pakistan during the late 1990s with special TV and radio programs. Since then, the celebration has become popular among the urban youth. In 2016, local governing body of Peshawar officially banned the celebration of Valentine's Day in the city of Peshawar. The ban was also implemented in another city such as Kohat by the local government.
In photo: Pakistani women choose Valentine's Day gifts at a shop in Peshawar. (AFP)
Valentine's Day celebrations did not catch on in India until around 1992. It was spread due to the programs in commercial TV channels, dedicated radio programs, and in addition to economic liberalization that allowed the explosion of the Valentine card industry. The celebration has caused a sharp change on how people have been displaying their affection in public in India.
In photo: An advertisement for Valentine's Day in Mumbai, India. (AFP)
In Chinese, Valentine's Day is called lovers' festival. The "Chinese Valentine's Day" is celebrated on the seventh day of the seventh month of the lunar calendar. It commemorates a day on which a legendary cow herder and weaving maid are allowed to be together. In Chinese culture, there is an older observance related to lovers, called "The Night of Sevens". According to the legend, the Cowherd star and the Weaver Maid star are normally separated by the Milky Way but are allowed to meet by crossing it on the 7th day of the 7th month of the Chinese calendar.
In photo: The Light Rose Garden in Hong Kong, is a public art installation featuring 25,000 white roses made of LED lights to celebrate Valentine's Day. (AFP)
Iraq has been one of the most disturbed countries of the world. But, this country does not forget to celebrate love be it in the time of militia or in the time of peace in the country.
In photo: An Iraqi Kurdish man spray-paints hearts in anticipation of Valentine's Day, in a street in Arbil. (AFP)
Valentine's Day in Palestine is a social occasion tinged with a political flavor. In spite of the harsh political and economic circumstances, many people have taken up the custom of giving flowers, cards, chocolates and gifts to their loved ones to celebrate the occasion.
In photo: A Palestinian girl holds flowers in front of a shop displaying red teddy bears on Valentine's day in Gaza. (AFP)
Valentine's Day is regarded as a very special day by the Syrians. But with years of ongoing war, people are not able to celebrate this "festival of love" with their loved ones. And, even if people are with their loved ones, they cannot afford to buy chocolates, cards or roses on Valentine's to express their love.
In photo: Valentine's-Day-styled sweets on a cart in the Hamidiyeh popular market in the old part of the capital Damascus on February 12, 2017. (AFP)
In Taiwan, traditional Qixi Festival, Valentine's Day and White Day are all celebrated. However, the situation is the reverse of Japan's. Men give gifts to women on Valentine's Day, and women return them on White Day.
In photo: A couple puts up a bamboo note to mark Valentine's day in Pingshi, the New Taipei City, on the fifth day of the lunar new year on February 14, 2013. (AFP)
In Japan, Morozoff Ltd. introduced the holiday for the first time in 1936, when it ran an advertisement aimed at foreigners. Later in 1953, it began promoting the giving of heart-shaped chocolates. In 1958, the Isetan department store ran a "Valentine sale". Further campaigns during the 1960s popularized the custom.
Men are expected to return gifts that are at least two or three times more valuable than the gifts received on Valentine's Day. Not returning the gift is perceived as the man placing himself in a position of superiority. Returning a present of equal value is considered as a way to say that the relationship is being cut.
In photo: Vendors recommend chocolates to customers at chocolate counters at the Printemps department store in Tokyo before Valentine's Day. (AFP)
In photo: A lesbian couple (L) and a gay couple take part in the Valentine's Day celebration in a Balmaceda Park in Santiago on February 14, 2014 (AFP)