At first, it may seem as if Valentine's Day in Spain is much the same as in 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 or arm-in-arm, smiling and whispering sweet nothings to each other.
In Latin America, Valentine's Day is known as "El día del amor y la amistad"—the day of love and friendship. However, here in Spain there is no platonic connotation for the day—it's all about romantic love.
Eating out on Valentine's Day in Spain
Planning on spending Valentine's Day in romantic, passionate Spain with your special someone this year? First things first: you'll probably want to get your ideal restaurant booked ASAP before spots start filling up. After all, what's Valentine's Day without an elegant, candlelit meal?
More and more restaurants in Spain are starting to 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. Same with platonic friends and romantic partners—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—only romantic partners.
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 boyfriend or girlfriend for long.
"Te quiero" is a lot less intense, but still packed with meaning. As a result, even that seemingly 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 here in Spain. In Barcelona, you'll find more romantic 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 romantic gesture of saving a princess from the clutches of an evil dragon by, erm, buying their loved ones a book.
Not seeing 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.
Read more about Festivals in Spain.
Valencia's Romantic Saint's Day
Can't take your romantic 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 Dionisio in Spanish). Believe it or not, it's yet another one of the most romantic dates of the year in Spain.
The traditional gift for this celebration is fruit-shaped marzipan wrapped in a handkerchief, usually bought by men for their wives. The women, in turn, save the handkerchiefs that their partner has given them every year as a tangible way of proving how long they've been together.