Does Germany Celebrate Valentine’s Day?

Valentine’s Day is one of those days that has some historical significance in parts of Europe but has been thoroughly co-opted by commercial interests, whose main objective is to find another way of getting people to spend money. Germany is not immune from this sort of commercial pressure but it hasn’t caught on in quite the same way as it has in France and the Anglophone countries. So, the answer to the question is “Yes and No!”

What is Valentine’s Day called in Germany?

Valentine’s Day translated into German is Valentinstag, which is a literal translation of the English equivalent. Happy Valentine’s Day in German is therefore fröhlichen Valentinstag.

The history of Valentine’s Day 

Valentine’s Day itself has supposedly evolved from European folklore. The date of Valentine’s Day is 14th February, which is technically still in winter, but Spring is just around the corner, a time of year associated with lovemaking and fertility. The story goes that there was a Pagan festival in which unmarried girls put their names in a jar or urn. Unmarried young men pulled out a name and that was a chance to have a date with them, a sort of medieval equivalent of blind dating! Apparently, this was a bit of a no-no as far as the church was concerned who attempted to control it by naming it after a saint called St Valentine. There seems to be a bit of a dispute over who Valentine was and why he was sainted, but the most popular story is that he was a prisoner who fell in love with a daughter of one of the prison guards. He would send her cards with his messages of love on it, something which has led to the modern version of Valentine’s Day. 

How Valentine’s Day came to Germany

Although Germans are just as romantic or not romantic as anyone else, they didn’t seem to have much to do with Valentine’s Day until after the Second World War, when the idea was brought into Germany by occupying troops. The celebration never quite took on in the same way as in the U.S., Britain or France, but is certainly not unknown. Some sources have stated that less than 40% of people in Germany do something on Valentine’s Day – send a card, flowers, chocolates, have a special meal etc. 

How do Germans celebrate Valentine’s Day?

Germans celebrate Valentine’s Day in the same way as everywhere else, but the day is not as commercialized as it is elsewhere. Valentine’s Day is all about sending a message of affection or love to someone special. Cards, flowers and dinner dates are probably the mort popular ways of celebrating Valentine’s Day. The only real difference between Valentine’s Day in Germany and other affluent countries is that it tends to be an adults only affair and it hasn’t really taken off amongst teenagers.