Valentine's Day localization: the importance of cultural adaptation

Valentine's Day localisation: the importance of cultural adaptation

Today we are discussing Valentine's Day and the need to take cultural adaptation into account. This holiday was originally identified with the Christian 3rd-century Roman Saint Valentine and is popular in English-speaking countries. It has spread to almost all the countries of the world.

Each country  has added its own cultural touches to this celebration of love. These differences and accents must be identified when translating texts in greeting cards, marketing campaigns, etc.

As February 14 approaches, many companies develop global marketing campaigns. Cultural values and preferences must be borne in mind to generate a stronger impact on the target market. To achieve effective cultural adaptation, companies need experienced translators who have an in-depth knowledge of the culture, as well as transcreation and copywriting techniques. Only native and experienced translators can adapt the global message to the local culture and produce a high-quality cultural translation.

Cultural adaptation on Valentine's Day: changing accents 

Japan: the most original

On February 14, Japan celebrates 'Giri-choco' – which means the day when girls and women give chocolates to the men in their lives. The type of chocolate depends on the type and degree of the relationship, love, friendship, (desired) affection, or social obligation.

Then on March 14 comes ‘White Day’ (Howaito dee) – the 40-year-old East Asian holiday of reciprocity. On White Day, men who received the gifts of chocolate can give gifts of white chocolate or marshmallows to their benefactors, indicating that they return the woman’s interest.

This Japanese tradition has been adopted in most East Asian countries, but with differences that you must take into account if you want to translate a marketing campaign for the East Asian market.

'Giri Choco', Valentine's day Japan localization

Finland, Estonia and Mexico: friendship comes first

In Finland, February 14 is 'Ystävän Päivä', which is translated as 'Friendship Day'. Finns and Estonians normally focus more on their friends than their partners, and dedicate this day to sending greetings or little gifts as tokens of friendship. Similarly, the 'Day of Love and Friendship' in Mexico celebrates affection in general, not just between partners.

Germany: the German touch

Just as in most European countries, on 'Valentinstag' (Valentine's Day), love for one's partner is celebrated by giving flowers and sweets. German-speaking populations have their added the tradition of giving miniature or chocolate pigs, which are a traditional New Year’s symbol of luck and lust.

Saudi Arabia: prohibition and black market

People in some Muslim-majority countries are forbidden to celebrate this 'Festival of Love' (Eed al-Hubb) for religious and moral reasons. Saudi Arabian law prohibits the sale of Valentine's Day items as presents, while the High Court of Pakistan recently banned Valentine’s Day events and media coverage. But the prohibition in Saudi Arabia has given rise to a black market of red roses and other gift items.

Everyone knows that when you undertake a global marketing campaign, you really need to know your target audience. So cultural adaptation is indispensable, which requires transcreation techniques used by native translators. This means that your message will come across as though it has been created specifically for the target population.