The Language of Love: Say “I Love You” in Hawaii, Paris, Singapore . . .

What will your Valentine’s Day message be? Spice it up by saying those three little words in another language.

Feb 1, 2013
  • Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
  • Wat Pho In Bangkok, Thailand
  • Cow statue in Singapore
  • Angel statue in Moscow, Russia
  • Independence Angel in Mexico City, Mexico
  • Michelangelo's “David” in Florence, Italy
  • Totems stand guard on the coast of Hawaii
  • Rodin's “The Thinker” in Paris, France
1/8
Rio de Janeiro (Portuguese): Eu te amo
In Brazil, an observance similar to Valentine’s Day, “Dia dos Namorados,” occurs on June 12, the day before the feast of the patron saint of marriage, Saint Anthony.
Photography Thinkstock
2/8
Bangkok (Thai): ฉันรักคุณ (chan rak khoon)
Ready to take the plunge? Head to Thailand, where couples can be married underwater off the coast of Koh Kradan, a picture-perfect island in the province of Trang.
Photography Thinkstock
3/8
Singapore (Mandarin): 我爱你 (Wǒ ài nǐ)
Traditionally, unmarried women in Singapore would throw Mandarin oranges into the Singapore River in hopes their soulmate would find them. These days, Singaporeans celebrate Valentine’s Day with carnivals, concerts and shows, and even weddings.
Photography Thinkstock
4/8
Moscow (Russian): я тебя люблю (ya tebya lyublyu)
Believe it or not, Valentine’s Day is fairly new in Russia, but nevertheless it has grown in popularity, particularly among the younger set. A favourite gift for women is a bouquet of assorted flowers, each with a different meaning. In fact, the daisy has become the symbol of the holiday instead of a red heart.
Photography Thinkstock
5/8
Mexico City (Spanish): Te amo
It’s all about family in Mexico City, where Valentine’s Day is spent exchanging gifts and cards with close friends and family, as well as romantic partners.
Photography Thinkstock
6/8
Florence (Italian): Ti amo
Italians like to keep things extra sweet on Valentine’s Day by exchanging edible gifts. One of the most popular is the Baci Perugina. This chocolate has a hazelnut at its centre and comes wrapped in a love note.
Photography Thinkstock
7/8
Hawaii (Hawaiian): Aloha au la ‘oe
What’s more romantic than spending Valentine’s Day in Hawaii? While there, be sure to exchange a traditional honi kiss with your special someone. Just press your foreheads and noses together, close your eyes, and then take a few breaths at the same time.
Photography Thinkstock
8/8
Paris (French): Je t’aime
One French tradition on Valentine’s Day is for couples and religious pilgrims to travel to the tiny village of St. Valentin (named after Saint Valentine), which celebrates the holiday with an annual festival.
Photography iStock

The mass-produced Valentine may be a modern innovation, but Valentine’s Day greetings can be traced back to the Middle Ages. Then and through the mid-19th century, whispering sweet nothings and, eventually, penning love letters were en vogue methods of expressing romantic affection. Of course, that was before decadent chocolates, over-the-top flowers, lustrous jewellery and giant teddy bears entered the marketplace with the commercialised version of Valentine’s Day that’s transitioned from purely Western to international observance.

We admit that it’s hard to go wrong with chocolate and flowers, but words—whether spoken or written—have the capacity to touch more deeply. Even if you’re not a master wordsmith, a simple “I love you” might be all it takes. If you want to make your message a bit sexier, and show off your international know-how, try saying it in another language (or two). Just remember to translate.

Click through our gallery to learn how to say “I love you” in eight different languages and discover romantic customs around the globe.

Get more Valentine’s Day tips, gift ideas and inspiration.


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