^ I think, if it were me, the first instinct would be to wait in the hopes that he would say something first, not because of the tradition you mentioned, but because of the other thing you mentioned; i.e. I wouldn't want to ruin our beautiful friendship, and/or make things painful and awkward and sad. But after a certain amount of time, I would make that tough decision, and think to myself: "If I don't say it, then it won't ever be said, so I'd better do it." And then, even if I was scared as all hell to do it, I'd force myself to go up to him and profess my feelings.
I wouldn't give hints - that's not really my style. I'd rather just lay it out, and not make it difficult for him.