February 14 is Valentine's Day: did you know that I love you does not have the same meaning everywhere around the world? Learn how to say it in all different languages and discover the real meaning in other countries.
Ti amo, I love you in Italian, sounds so charming, so enchanting to hear, but do not think this is an everyday expression to be heard in Rome or Milan. Actually, Italian women very often resent Italian men not pronouncing enough ti amos. On the other hand, in Italy people think that British and Americans overuse this expression: I love tea, I love New York, I love my son, I love my husband, I love my dog. Italians pronounce ti amo only to the person they real love, such a lover, a husband/wife, a boyfriend/girlfriend. To a friend, a close relative, even a son, they feel more comfortable saying Ti voglio bene, which can be translated as I feel for you so much affection, I really care for you.
Even in one of the most romantic countries in the world, pronouncing Je t’aime may sound difficult. If you love a French man/woman don’t be upset if you do not hear those romantic words as often as you would like to. But if he/she takes you to the Le Mur des Je T'aime, it is like he/she has said it. The Wall of I love you is an artwork by French artist Frédéric Baron, and it is a huge wall of 10 metres by 4 in which you can find Je t’aime written in more than 300 languages in the world.
In Spain, te quiero means I want you, I desire you, or I feel affection for you. This expression is far more used by Spanish women and men than Te amo, which expresses a romantic and sensual love.
In Greece, s’agapo means I love you, the substantive agape in fact signifies love. Be careful though, we are speaking of pure love, a soul love, not exactly the sensual and passionate feeling you might have in mind. Agape in ancient Greece meant brotherly love, love towards God, and all that sort of spiritual feelings. For more earthly emotions, there was Eros, the Greek god of love, more sensitive to beauty and sensuality.
Speaking about the Czech Republic, we do not know about scientific surveys indicating how Czech behave when they are in love, we do not know if they easily say I love you or they prefer to keep silent. Or maybe they just sleep together: “Making love with a woman and sleeping with a woman are two separate passions, not merely different but opposite. Love does not make itself felt in the desire for copulation (a desire that extends to an infinite number of women) but in the desire for shared sleep (a desire limited to one woman).” The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera
We don’t know how love is expressed in Slovakia or if Slovaks celebrate Valentine’s Day. We just know that this tiny new nation has so many romantic places to visit: national parks, wooden churches, castles and caves. Be happy with that!
In Turkey, such as in Italy and in many other countries around the world, Valentine’s Day is not about friendship, but it is exclusively about love between sweethearts, husbands and wives, lovers. Seni seviyorum literally translated in English is I’m loving you… it sounds like: I’m loving you now, tomorrow I have no idea .
In Poland there is a high level of romance, but men and women are very shy in expressing their feelings. They won’t pronounce so many Kocham cię, but they will keep locking love padlocks on the bridges railing and throwing the keys into the river.
In Germany, Valentine’s Day is all about love and not friendship: love between a man and a woman; a man and a man; a woman and a woman. According to a recent British survey, Germany is one of the best country to find love if you are an expat. That’s because Germans speak many foreign languages, so it is easier to get in touch with locals and... fall in love.
Apparently Dutch men and Dutch women are not very romantic. What we know instead is that in Holland (and in all the others Scandinavian countries) respect and parity of the sexes are far more important than chocolates and flowers once a year. We agree.
In Norway, Valentine’s Day is a very modern celebration and it is usually called Alle hjerters dag, the day of all hearts.
In Sweden, Valentine’s Day became a popular celebration amongst youngsters only around 1980, even if flowers sellers tried unsuccessfully to push the idea of Valentine’s Day since the Sixties.
In Finland, you shouldn’t even think of buying presents for your loved one on Valentine’s Day: the celebration is about friendship, not love. Enjoy the day with all your dearest friends.
Hungary is a very romantic country and not only because they celebrate Valentine’s Day. The national hero is Sándor Petõfi, a liberal revolutionary and poet. This is his most romantic poem:
I'll be a tree, if you are its flower,
Or a flower, if you are the dew
I'll be the dew, if you are the sunbeam,
Only to be united with you.
My lovely girl, if you are the Heaven,
I shall be a star above on high;
My darling, if you are hell-fire,
To unite us, damned I shall die.
Ya lyublyu tebya, I love you in Russian sounds more as a tongue-twister than a declaration of love. In Russia, love, loyalty and family are celebrated on July 8
In Brazil, the celebration of love does not occur on February 14, but on June 12 and it is called Dia dos namorados, the day of lovers. In fact, it is the day dedicated to St. Anthony, the saint able to make people fall in love.
In Portugal, love (and not friendship) is celebrated on Valentine’s Day. Shy Portuguese men won’t say Amo-te so often, but they will shower their loved one with flowers and candies on Valentine’s Day.
In Romania, the celebration of love is not on February 14 but on February 24. The celebration is dedicated to Dragobete, a sort of Cupid, a god of love belonging to the Romanian pagan tradition. Dragobete was able to make all the animals fall in love.
In the Republic of Albania, Valentine’s Day is a rather new celebration and it is meant to celebrate love and friendship.
In Japan there are two Valentine’s Days: the first is on February 14, a day during which women offer to men dark chocolate. After a month, on March 14, during The White Day, men (when they are interested), give back some white chocolate. Of course, this double Valentine’s Day was created by the confectionery industry.
In China, Valentine’s Day is becoming more and more popular, especially among youngsters. Actually this celebration is becoming more important than the Double Seventh Festival, a sort of carnival celebrated in August during which single girls ask to the Gods to find a boyfriend.
Valentine’s Day in all the English-speaking countries is a big celebration of love and friendship. The association between the saint and the celebration of love started with Geoffrey Chaucer, the greatest English poet of the Middle Ages. He wrote about St. Valentine's Day as a special day for lovers in his love poem The Parliament of Fowls. Centuries later, in 1868, Richard Cadbury produced his first Valentine's Day box of chocolates and the Hallmark company released the first Valentine card in 1913.