Valentine’s Day Celebrations Around the World

Valentine’s Day, now seen as the celebration of love, is observed all over the world. Yet, it’s not all the same paper hearts and Hallmark cards that the United States has come to expect. Each country and region celebrate a little differently, as we’ve shown on the map below.

View Valentine’s Day Celebrations Around the World in a full screen map

It is often more useful to see data (based on this Wikipedia page) plotted on a map. You can make your own map with open data here. Then explore each country, or read on for more on how the world sees love on February 14.

Valentine’s Day in the United States

A U.S. celebration of Valentine’s Day wouldn’t be complete without exchanging cards with loved ones — or potential loved ones. In fact, roughly 190 million Valentine’s Day cards are sent each year in the United States. This 190 million does not include the cards that are exchanged by children in schools — that number would be overwhelming. Valentine’s Day in the U.S. has become increasingly commercialized as the holiday encourages consumers to spend money on loved ones. In 2010, Americans spent $108 per person on Valentine’s Day and that number rose to a whopping $131 just three years later in 2013.

Valentine’s Day in Latin America

Valentine’s Day is referred to by a variety of different names throughout Latin America. From “Dia del Carino” (Affection Day) in Guatemala to “El Dia del Amor y la Amistad” (Day of Love and Friendship) in Mexico, Costa Rica, and Puerto Rico, these Latin American countries may celebrate Valentine’s Day a bit differently than those in the U.S., but their celebrations are no less special. Not only do some of these Latin American countries recognize this holiday as one for significant others, but in Mexico, Costa Rica, and Puerto Rico, people also celebrate and perform acts of appreciation for their friends on Valentine’s Day.

Some Latin American countries don’t celebrate their version of Valentine’s Day in February. In Brazil, “Dia dos Namorados” ("Lovers’/“Boyfriends’/Girlfriends’ Day”) is actually celebrated over the summer, in June. This is because February 14th falls very close to the Brazilian Carnival. Due to this absence of Valentine’s Day celebrations in February, Brazil is a very popular tourist spot during February for single folks from the U.S. who wish to avoid all things Valentine’s Day-related.

Colombians and other Latin American countries also partake in “Amigo Secreto” (Secret Friend) during Valentine’s Day. Similar to “Secret Santa” at Christmastime, during Amigo Secreto, participants are randomly assigned a person to whom they must give a gift.

Valentine’s Day in Europe

American Valentine’s Day culture has largely impacted how European countries celebrate Valentine’s Day. The countries most influenced by the U.S. cultural interpretation of Valentine’s Day are Sweden, Norway, and Denmark. The Swedish name for Valentine’s Day can be translated into “All Hearts’ Day," which was launched in the 1960s by the flower industry in an effort to increase spending and also due to American influence. Flower sales for All Hearts Day in Sweden are only exceeded by flower sales for one other holiday: Mother’s Day. In Norway and Denmark, much like in the United States, people take the time to eat a romantic dinner with a loved one or send cards or roses on Valentine’s Day.

The United Kingdom celebrates Valentine’s Day much like the United States with just under half of the population spending money on their Valentines. 25 million cards are sent each year. In Ireland, those who seek love make a pilgrimage to the Shrine of St. Valentine in Dublin and pray in hope of finding love on Valentine’s Day.

Similar to many Latin American countries, some European countries also view Valentine’s Day as an opportunity to celebrate friendship rather than romantic love. In both Finland and Estonia, Valentine’s Day is a day to remember friends, and is called ystävänpäivä in Finland which translates to “Friend’s Day.” Estonia’s word for Valentine’s Day also translates to “Friend’s Day.”

Romania has also started to celebrate Valentine’s Day. This has drawn backlash from several groups, institutions and nationalist organizations who condemn Valentine’s Day for being superficial and an import from Western countries.

Valentine’s Day in Asia: Religious Bans

In some countries throughout Asia, Valentine’s Day is banned for religious reasons. When Valentine’s Day was first introduced to Pakistan in the 1990s, the Jamaat-e-Islami political party banned the celebration of the holiday. Since then, the local Peshawar government, other cities, and Islamabad High Court have all denounced the holiday. Despite this, there are still those who celebrate the holiday.

Recently in Iran, Islamic teachers have criticized Valentine’s Day because the holiday contradicts Islamic culture. In 2011, the Iranian printing works owners’ union issued a directive banning the printing and distribution of any goods promoting the holiday, including cards, gifts, and teddy bears.

Religious police banned the sale of all Valentine’s Day items in Saudi Arabia in 2002 and 2008, telling shop workers to remove any red items because the day is considered a Christian holiday. This ban has actually created a black market for roses and wrapping paper. In 2012, religious police arrested more than 140 Muslims for celebrating the holiday and confiscated all red roses from flower shops. Muslims are not allowed to celebrate the holiday, and non-Muslims can only celebrate behind closed doors.

Valentine’s Day in Asia: Lawful Celebrations

Valentine’s Day was first introduced in Japan in 1936 by a cake company that decided to run an advertisement. The Japanese custom that only women give chocolates to men may have originated from the translation error of the cake company executive during the initial campaigns. In the 1980s, the Japanese National Confectionery Industry Association launched a campaign to make March 14 a “reply day,” where men are expected to return the favor to those who gave them chocolates on Valentine’s Day. Men are expected to return gifts that are at least two or three times more valuable than the gifts they received on Valentine’s Day.

In South Korea, women give chocolate to men on February 14, and men give non-chocolate candy to women on March 14 (White Day). On April 14 (Black Day), those who did not receive anything on February 14 or March go to a Chinese-Korean restaurant to eat black noodles and lament their ‘single life.’


The map above provides a glimpse into how various countries around the world celebrate Valentine’s Day. No matter how, or even when or if you celebrate the holiday, take some time to remember your friends and loved ones. And if you’re still heartbroken about the results of Super Bowl LII, cheer up by checking out your favorite team’s records in Super Bowl Winners and Losers.

Super Bowl Winners and Losers

Football fans get ready! As the Philadelphia Eagles and New England Patriots gear up for Super Bowl LII, here’s a look back at Super Bowl history. Which teams have made out with multiple wins and which teams haven’t yet had the opportunity to show their stuff on the Super Bowl field? Use the map below to see the Super Bowl data, or read on to see what insights we’ve pulled from the record books.

View Super Bowl Winners and Losers on a Map in a full screen map

Most Super Bowl Wins

While many a football aficionado may know that the Pittsburgh Steelers are the reigning champs of the Super Bowl, there are more teams on the most Super Bowl Wins list to remember during this Super Bowl season. However, the Pittsburgh Steelers do deserve some recognition for being the only team in the NFL with six Super Bowl wins. Having appeared eight times in the Super Bowl, six of eight or a 75% winning percentage isn’t half bad. The Steelers’ most recent win was in 2008 but the team most recently appeared in the 2010 Super Bowl.

Super Bowl Top 10

Team Appearances Wins
Pittsburgh Steelers 8 6
Dallas Cowboys 8 5
New England Patriots 9 5
San Francisco 49ers 6 5
Green Bay Packers 5 4
New York Giants 5 4
Denver Broncos 8 3
Oakland Raiders 5 3
Washington Redskins 5 3
Baltimore Ravens 2 2


The Dallas Cowboys, New England Patriots, and San Francisco 49ers are all tied on our list with five Super Bowl wins. The Cowboys have actually played our top winning team, the Steelers, in three different Super Bowls. The Steelers won Super Bowls X and XIII and the Cowboys beat the Steelers in Super Bowl XXX. Talk about a long-standing rivalry!

Our third place team, the Patriots, have also gone head to head more than once with our sixth-place team, the New York Giants. These two teams have played each other twice in the Super Bowl and surprisingly enough, our sixth-place team beat the Patriots in both Super Bowl XLII and XLVI.

The Washington Redskins, with their three Super Bowl wins, haven’t appeared since they won the Super Bowl in 1991, a pretty long Super Bowl drought for a three-time champion team.

There are 10 other NFL teams that have one at least one Super Bowl.

Highest Winning Percentage

The more times a team has appeared in the Super Bowl, the harder it can be to maintain that perfect winning percentage. Only four teams in the entire NFL can brag that they have a perfect winning percentage of 100%.

Team Appearances Wins
Baltimore Ravens 2 2
New Orleans Saints 1 1
New York Jets 1 1
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 1 1


These four teams have won just as often as they have appeared in the Super Bowl: the New Orleans Saints (in 2009,) the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (in 2002,) the Baltimore Ravens, having won both times they appeared in the Super Bowl in 2000 and then again twelve years later in 2012, and finally the New York Jets way back in 1968.

The Jets have had a substantial Super Bowl drought, not having won nor appeared in a Super Bowl since their win in Super Bowl III.

AFC vs NFC

The National Football League (NFL) is comprised of the American Football Conference (AFC) and the National Football Conference (NFC), and these two conferences have a rivalry all their own. With 16 teams in each conference and a grand total of 32 teams in the NFL, there is some steep competition in order to end up one of the two teams that get the chance to play in the Super Bowl each year.

The NFC has more Super Bowl wins than the AFC. With 24 wins, the NFC has just a small leg up above the AFC which has 23 Super Bowl wins. Most of the NFC’s 24 wins come from the 1980s and 1990s. The NFC won 16 out of 20 Super Bowls during the two decades. They even went on a 13-game winning streak from Super Bowl XIX to Super Bowl XXXI.

However, the AFC made a great comeback with two consecutive wins in 1997 and 1998. The AFC would go on to win 9 out of the 12 Super Bowls leading from 1997-2009.

Currently, the NFC and the AFC are pretty even, with four teams from the AFC and four from the NFC winning Super Bowls on and off since 2010.

NFL Teams Without a Super Bowl

Although the focus of this post is on winning, we thought it would be neat to provide a list of the 13 NFL teams who have not won a Super Bowl title. This leaves more teams (19/32) with a Super Bowl win than those who have never seen that coveted ring.

  • Buffalo Bills (appeared in 1990, 1991, 1992, and 1993)
  • Minnesota Vikings (1969, 1973, 1974, and 1976)
  • Atlanta Falcons (1998, 2016)
  • Cincinnati Bengals (1981, 1988)
  • Carolina Panthers (2003, 2015)
  • Philadelphia Eagles (1980, 2004)
  • Arizona Cardinals (2008)
  • Los Angeles Chargers (1994)
  • Tennessee Titans (1999)
  • Cleveland Browns (never appeared)
  • Detroit Lions (never appeared)
  • Jacksonville Jaguars (never appeared)
  • Houston Texans (never appeared)

Highest Scoring Super Bowls

As for the highest scoring Super Bowls, the 1989 game saw the highest score for one team. In this Super Bowl XXIV, the San Francisco 49ers played a sweeping game against the Denver Broncos that resulted in a 55-10 win for the 49ers, and the Super Bowl record for most points scored by one team.

A close second came three years later with Super Bowl XXVII. In this game, the Dallas Cowboys beat the Buffalo Bills 52-17 in the second highest points scored by a single team Super Bowl game in history.

The highest cumulative single game score goes to Super Bowl XXIX two years later with a San Francisco 49ers vs. San Diego Chargers game that ended in a 49-26 win for the 49ers. The cumulative points for both teams add up to 75.

Curious to see if Super Bowl LII surpasses any of these records? If the New England Patriots win this year, they will share the top spot for most wins (six!) with the Steelers. Watch the game on February 4th, 2018 to find out.

And if you’re more of a baseball fan, check out Mapping World Series Winners and Losers.

Fastest Geocoders: Benchmarking Google, Bing, and MapQuest

When you have hundreds of locations to plot on a map, speed counts. You likely want to be able to convert addresses to map markers faster than one per second. Even if you only have a single record at a time, your user experience is negatively impacted by delays of even milliseconds.

Since customers of our batch geocoding service rely on fast results, we set out to compare some of the top geocoders to see how quickly they could turn around several hundred addresses. The results below show what we learned testing the geocoders from Google, Bing, and MapQuest, as well as some other geocoders we considered.

What is Geocoding?

Geocoding is the process of converting an address, city, state, zip code or postal code into mappable coordinates. In order to use most customized online mapping tools, such as Google Maps, you’ll need a pair of latitude and longitude coordinates for each of your locations, so each will need to be geocoded.

That’s how our page on geocoding addresses describes it.

For out geocoder tests, we used full addresses, including city, state, and zip code. There are many methods that cartographers can use to turn an address into a plot-able point. You can approximate with existing segments of a street, or use parcel-level centroids, to mention two. Regardless of the method, the result is what matters. Ideally, you’d find an accurate point in the shortest amount of time.

Methodology

Before getting to the results, it’s important to understand how we approached our geocoding test. Our goal was to provide a setting to get the most accurate comparison possible, so we used the same approach with all geocoders.

Our dataset comprises 670 complete addresses. We opted to only include US addresses, namely a subset of those included in this dataset. Each address was URL-encoded and pre-compiled into the URL format used by each geocoder:

  • Google Free
    https://maps.googleapis.com/maps/api/geocode/json?address=ENCODED_ADDRESS
  • Google Premium:
    https://maps.googleapis.com/maps/api/geocode/json?address=ENCODED_ADDRESS&new_forward_geocoder=true&sensor=false&client=CLIENT_NAME&channel=CHANNEL_NAME&signature=PRE_CALCULATED_SIGNATURE
  • Bing:
    http://dev.virtualearth.net/REST/v1/Locations?key=API_KEY&query=ENCODED_ADDRESS
  • MapQuest:
    http://www.mapquestapi.com/geocoding/v1/address?key=API_KEY&location=ENCODED_ADDRESS

We stored the test URLs in four separate files, one address per line in each file. Using Python’s grequests library, we split the tests into equal-sized groups, running each group’s geocoder requests concurrently until all completed. We tested each geocoding provider with groups of 10, 30, 67, and 100. We tested each group multiple times, using the median result.

If you’re interested, you can see the benchmarking code on GitHub.

Geocoding Results

Group size Bing Google Free Google Pro MapQuest
100 4.987568 17.976482 14.626393 13.215507
67 6.509502 18.503981 12.980358 14.202346
30 13.812446 24.373537 13.332298 17.450716
10 28.278917 31.867758 26.12703 37.086448

Response Time

The first thing we can notice in the response times is how big of a difference concurrent requests make. With the smallest group size (10 requests at a time), all geocoders took about 30 seconds to process all 670 addresses. The biggest difference came in the largest group sizes (67 and 100 requests at a time), where Bing shined. Microsoft’s geocoder returned results for 670 addresses in under five seconds at its fastest.

As expected, Google Pro outpaced its free counterpart. At the largest group sizes, Google Pro was 23-43% faster than the free version. We should note that Google Free is built to cap out at a rate limit of 50 requests per second. Google Pro is decidedly the better option if speed and capacity are requirements (the free version also rate limits at 2,500 requests per day). In our informal tests calling Google’s free geocoder from JavaScript (the same method used on BatchGeo), we hit rate limiting that we did not see in our tests from a server.

Except in the smallest group size, MapQuest kept close to the others. The original web map company remains competitive.

Error Rates

Despite sometimes sending as many as 100 requests in a single second, every geocoder stood up well to the load. During our tests, only the free version of the Google geocoder ever returned an error, and that was only four times out of over 2,500 tests, or 0.1% of the time.

The low error rate is surprising, given that many APIs have rate limits, published or unpublished. But as mentioned above, these tests from the server did not appear to trigger rate limiting. Even the tests with 100 concurrent connections did not activate rate limits. While 670 addresses is enough to be a significant sample, it’s likely not seen as an abusive level of requests.

Accuracy of Results

As mentioned earlier, fast geocoder results are only useful if the data returned is accurate. However, since our focus here was on producing a speed benchmark, the accuracy of what is returned was not included. Further, determining whether a geocoded result is “correct” is up to many different interpretation methods. What determines the right answer? How close to the true result is “close enough?” Does the accepted range change based on the size of the property at the address?

Each of these questions is worthy of its own individual investigation, well beyond the scope of our speed benchmark.

Other Geocoders

Lastly, we did consider other geocoders that were not included in this research. Among them were Mapbox and LocationIQ. In both cases, our tests were rate limited, often even in the smallest groups of requests. Each likely has paid versions, which we’d be open to comparing in a future tests.

Fast Batch Geocoding with Built-In Maps

If you’re looking for the fastest way to convert a list of addresses into a map, batch geocoding is your answer. Specifically, our quick and easy mapping tool that makes geocoding as simple as copy-paste from Excel or any other spreadsheet.