Unique Valentine Traditions Around Latin America

For Latinos, Valentine's Day celebrates a more platonic love.

Feliz Dia del Amor y la AmistadThe American version of Valentine's Day, or San Valentín, has evolved into the largest holiday of passionate, sensual love between two people. This love fest, with its cutesy symbols and high expectations, gives lovers the opportunity to shower each other with gifts of flowers, chocolates and sparkly jewelry.

An homage to friends

While most of the world looks forward to this annual homage to red, hot love, Latin Americans take a more platonic approach and celebrate their friends on February 14th. The "Día del amor y la amistad" celebrates friendship; as a result, lovers are not the only ones enjoying roses and candy, as the holiday highlights enduring, life-long relationships that may outlast marriages and engagements.

And while the Day of Love gets celebrated similarly to Valentine's Day in the states, there are also as many variations as there are countries in Spanish-speaking America. Here are some of the most unusual ones.

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Kissing, orchids and "secret friends"

-In Argentina, February 14th is not the only day dedicated to love. Argentineans celebrate "Sweetness Week" during July 13-20, when it's customary to give candy and kisses as gifts to everyone. The week culminates with "Friendship Day" on July 20th.

-Bolivia actually has two days dedicated to love and friendship. Their Día del amor y la amistad is celebrated on July 23rd (winter in the southern hemisphere) and on September 21st (first day of spring) they celebrate "Student, youth, spring and love day", where loved ones get a small gift as an expression of love.

-Guatemala, along with a few other Central American countries, celebrates Día del cariño or "Affection Day" on February 14th.

-Colombia, the number one exporter of flowers on this day, celebrates their Día on the third Saturday of September. And, the week before that Saturday, Colombians play Amigo Secreto (or "secret friend"), a type of Secret Santa game.

-Traditional Valentine's Day gifts in Peru include stuffed animals and orchids, instead of roses.

-Mexico divides Valentine's Day over two separate dates; they keep February 14th for romantic love and couples, and dedicate July 30th as "International Friendship Day".

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