Valentine's Day is celebrated annually on 14 February in many countries worldwide – and Luxembourg is no exception.

It is a day dedicated to expressing love and affection towards romantic partners, friends and family members. The origins of Valentine's Day are not quite clear. While it may have originally emerged from the ancient Roman fertility ritual of Lupercalia, it is now commonly associated with Saint Valentine, a Christian martyr who lived in ancient Rome.

To mark the occasion of Valentine’s Day, reached out to community members to hear their love stories and accounts of how people in Luxembourg celebrate this special day.

In one account, Ognyan, a Bulgarian national who now lives in Luxembourg, told the story of how he met his partner. He joked that he had heard many stereotypes about French people and with his partner, he learned which ones were true.

He says he tends to gravitate to Slavic people, so in a way, it's not surprising we got together. We met through Tinder, which is rather anti-climactic,” Ognyan explained. “We do the same kind of work in different fields, which makes us feel understood. We can support each other, but also give an outsider perspective on how things are. It's nice that we can talk to each other about work, but also that we don't share an office.” Their Valentine’s Day plans include exchanging small gifts of chocolates and flowers, making pizza together at home and “binging” a TV series.

When asked what advice he would give people who are looking to date, Ognyan suggested relying on networks of friends and acquaintances. The two partners he has had were just one person away from being introduced to him (if he had not found them on Tinder first). He noted this was especially true in a space with a small dating pool, such as for gay men in Luxembourg. He also added that he found love when he did not feel ready for it, a sentiment echoed by Eleonora…

Eleonora, an Italian citizen now living and working in Luxembourg, also shared the story of how she met her partner: “[...] Before I moved to Luxembourg, I was living my best life in Milan, with a job I didn't mind and had no plans to move elsewhere. Until one day my (now ex) boyfriend informed me of his intention to go to Luxembourg and so I settled here.” She continued: “Then many things happened but long story short, he did, in fact, never come to Luxembourg and after a few years apart we decided to go our separate ways. And ironically, six months later, when I had finally decided to go back to Italy, I met a special person who made me change my mind, an American, also here on business.”

She explained that, having been freshly out of a relationship, she was not planning to “fall for someone else” but she described this encounter on the Hinge application as one of those “when you know you know” moments. “With respect to what we have in common, I think it would be easier to say what we don't have in common. Sometimes I think we really are the same person,” she said. Their Valentine’s celebration was an early one – they celebrated last Saturday with “a cookout, flowers and good wine,” as their full schedules did not allow a special event on a weeknight.

Concerning dating advice, Eleonora underlined the need to stay “open and spontaneous”, especially in Luxemburg, a place where “people come and go, a little too easily at times”. She also noted that love is often found in unexpected places and at unexpected times. She added: “Chances are you won’t be as ready as you wanted to be, at least that was the case for me and for most of the people I’ve met here.” She concluded that it makes her smile to think about love and Luxembourg: partly because it is not a stereotypically romantic nation and because, despite this, she moved here suddenly for love and then found love here again, unexpectedly.

Nevertheless, Valentine’s Day does not need to be exclusively dedicated to romantic love. Ana Carina, from Luxembourg, told that throughout her 28 years, she has spent the day not on romantic escapades, but platonically. “With only around one year spent in a relationship in my life, most 14 February have been occasions to celebrate (or not) the festivities solo or to share love with friends.” Despite the certain “commercial allure” the holiday holds, she described having mostly used the day to buy Valentine’s gifts for friends, or flowers, especially for male friends. She added that men “[...] unfortunately rarely get flowers on sometimes only for the first time at their funeral…”. She also described having spent the day at times baking for friends, organising picnics with heart-shaped pasta and balloons, dancing with her female friends and celebrating platonic love in many other ways, moving away from conventions.

This year, Ana Carina plans on doing this again for a friend, creating a “cosy haven” to spend the day together and “make him feel at home”. She concluded: “To those spending Valentine's alone, remember, self-love is a celebration in itself – run yourself a warm bath, buy yourself flowers, and relish in the love you truly deserve. Happy Valentine's to all, regardless of who you share it with!