Love is undoubtedly a universal language, and Valentine’s Day is one of its most emblematic occasions. To demonstrate its international reach, in this article we look at how to translate Valentine’s Day into different languages and how the holiday is celebrated around the world — despite globalization, the festivity does not have an exact equivalent in every country (especially in those that do not have a strong Catholic tradition).
Valentine’s Day in Europe
Valentine's Day has its origins in Rome, which also happens to be where the holiday is celebrated most fervently in Europe. Among the most enthusiastic countries when it comes to this special day, we're going to look at the UK, France, and Italy.
“Valentine’s Day” is the name of the festivity in this English-speaking country.
France, also known as the country of love, celebrates this day under the name “Le jour de Saint Valentin.”
The “Festa di San Valentino” has a more religious component in this country. Not for nothing, this is where the tradition was born.
Germans have celebrated the day of love almost from the beginning, dubbing it “Valentinstag.”
In this country, where the official language is Finnish, Valentine's Day is not celebrated under the same name, rather it is known as “Sõbrapäev” or “Friendship day.”
Valentine’s Day in Asia
In this tour of the Asian continent, we’ll stop in countries where the holiday of love is alive and well, albeit under different names and on different dates. We should also point out that the celebration is given less importance than in the Western world.
In the southern part of the Korean peninsula, this day is celebrated under two different names: “White Day,” celebrated by the lovesick on March 14, and “Black Day,” held the day after for single people.
China does not have the same holiday, per se, as it has been enjoying its own version since long before we began celebrating our holiday. There it is known as “Qi Quiao Jie” (“The Festival to Plead for Skills”).
The local version in this nation is known as “Tanabata,” where revelers commemorate their traditions. However, the romantic part of the celebration is moved to Christmas Day, thanks to the influence of Valentine’s Day in the West.
Other places where Valentine’s Day is celebrated and its translation
There are many other places where this celebration has been adapted to the local language. Here we want to highlight a Latin country, Brazil, and an Arab country, Afghanistan.
In the Amazonian country, the celebration is held on June 12th, the eve of St. Anthony's Day, in commemoration of the patron saint of marriage. Here, the Portuguese translation is “Día dos Namorados.”
The holiday is also celebrated in this nation. In fact, February 14th is known as “عيد الحب” (pronounced “Eyd alhabu”).
As you have seen, the inhabitants of countries all over the world have been able to mold Valentine's Day around their language, traditions, and culture.
Culture and language remain rather intimately related, which is why translators need to know not only a language to perfection, but also the necessary ethnographic and cultural particularities. This way they can transpose the concepts of one country to another, ensuring that the end recipient understands the text and the original meaning does not get lost in translation.