How the Spanish Celebrate Valentine's Day

There are actually three romantic days for couples in Spain

Bacelona Arc de Triomf during sunrise in the city of Barcelona

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At first, it may seem as if Valentine's Day in Spain is celebrated similarly to many other parts of the world. You'll see upscale, romantic restaurants getting booked to capacity weeks in advance and street stalls overflowing with fresh flowers. On the big day, the love in the air will be tangible as couples walk through the picturesque cobblestone streets hand-in-hand, smiling and whispering sweet nothings to each other. 

In Latin America, Valentine's Day is known as "El día del amor y la amistad," meaning the day of love and friendship. However, in Spain there is no platonic connotation for the day, it's all about passionate love.

Dining out on Valentine's Day in Spain

To many, Valentine's Day equals an elegant, candlelit meal. If you are planning on spending Valentine's Day in romantic Spain with your special someone this year, you'll probably want to get your ideal restaurant booked as soon as possible before spots start filling up.

Many restaurants in Spain offer online booking. Check to see if the place you're interested in does. If not, you may have to call ahead (or stop by in person if you're in town before February 14).

How to Say "I Love You" in Spanish

If you really want to impress your loved one on Valentine's Day, try telling them those magic words in Spanish, one of the world's most romantic-sounding languages. There are two main ways of saying "I love you" in Spanish: "te quiero" and "te amo."

  • "Te quiero" literally translates to "I want you" and is the most common way of saying "I love you" in Spanish. Though to English speakers it may sound like it has a sexual connotation, that's not the case in Spanish. Parents and children will say "te quiero" to each other, and the same goes for platonic friends and couples if you love someone in any sense of the word, "te quiero" is the way to go. 
  • "Te amo" is used purely in the romantic sense. You won't hear it used among family and friends.

Both "te quiero" and "te amo" are appropriate for professing your love to that special someone on Valentine's Day. However, keep in mind that "te amo" could be considered a little strong if you haven't been with your partner for long.

"Te quiero" is a lot less intense, but still packed with meaning. As a result, even that seems more low-key phrase might be considered too much if you are in a very casual relationship. "Me molas," which implies you like someone as more than a friend, is a little more lighthearted.

Barcelona's Second Valentine's Day

Believe it or not, February 14 isn't the only day dedicated to love in Spain. In Barcelona, you'll find more sentimental celebrations taking place on April 23, or El Día de Sant Jordi.

Known as "St George's Day" in English, this festival is one of the most important dates on the Catalan calendar. Each year, gallant gentlemen honor St. George's heroic gesture of saving a princess from the clutches of an evil dragon by buying their loved ones a book.

If you don't see the connection, no worries. In reality, this tradition probably derives from the fact that William Shakespeare happened to die on St. George's feast day in 1616 (and Spain's greatest author, Cervantes, died a day earlier). As a result, two of the Western world's greatest literary minds are honored along with the patron saint of Catalonia

Valencia's Saint's Day

If you can't take your dreamy trip to Spain until later in the year, head to Valencia on October 9, when locals proudly celebrate the feast day of St. Dionysius ("San Dionisioin Spanish). Believe it or not, it's yet another one of the most romantic dates of the year in Spain.

The traditional gift men usually buy their wives for this celebration is a mocaorà, a silken scarf filled with marzipan that displays the different fruits and vegetables of Valencia. The women, in turn, save the piece of cloth that their partner has given them every year as a tangible way of proving how long they've been together. 

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