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.