The story goes that Valentine’s Day began as a celebration of the life of Saint Valentine, a in the days of the early Christian church who was imprisoned for performing illegal marriages for
soldiers (who weren’t allowed to marry whilst serving in the Roman army) and for ministering to Christians, who were persecuted in Rome at that time. He was later martyred, and relics of Saint
Valentine exist in a number of locations across Europe (at least, according to Wikipedia)
Nowadays, Valentine’s Day is celebrated as a special day to show your affection to another person, often in the form of cards, chocolates, flowers and gifts. Which is always a lovely thing to do!
This possibly links back to ancient Greek or Roman festivals celebrating love and fertility (although this first appears in the 14th century within the writings of Geoffrey Chaucer, so how
accurate this is is debatable)
Valentines Cards appear during the Victorian era, although apparently pre-written verses were available before then for young men who were unable to compose their own romantic poems.
Today, Valentine’s Day is celebrated in many countries around the world under a variety of names (for example, many countries in Latin America celebrate a Day of Love and Friendship, which
includes acts of appreciation for friends as well as loved ones) , who each have their own take on the occasion, although it is common in most to exchange greetings and gifts, whether with a
romantic partner (or someone who is admired from afar), or to friends and family. Some pet owners buy Valentines for their fur babies, and children are often encouraged to give their classmates
cards as a token of friendship
However, certain countries do not celebrate Valentines Day at the same time
Brazil has a
similar celebration on 12th June, and omits romantic celebrations mid February due to the proximity of the date to the Brazilian Carnival.
China has a
lover’s festival on the seventh day of the seventh month according to the lunar calender, in commemoration of an ancient legend of when a cow herder and weaving maid were allowed to be together.
A variety of
different customs celebrating love can be found all over India
In Iran there
is a festival to show love towards wives and mothers.
Israel has a
celebration dating back to ancient times that occurs in late August commemorating romantic love
Japan has been
celebrating Valentines day since the mid 20th century (although this apparently is mainly based around chocolate gifts due to the introduction of the holiday by a chocolate company. Due to a
mistranslation, it is generally women and girls who give the chocolate on 14th Feb, however another chocolate company later introduced a ‘Reply Day’ on 14th March where men buy gifts for the
women. The gift on Reply Day should be greater in value then the one given on Valentines Day, otherwise it is seen as a slight on the original gifter. Although Reply Day started with
chocolate, other gifts are now also common. Those crafty advertisers!)
course, most other countries have festivals celebrating love at various times of the year (this
Wikipedia entryhas lots of details)
Which just goes to show that love is an important thing in all cultures, so much so that all over the world people set aside a special day to appreciate their friends, families and romantic
I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about this holiday, and that you get thoroughly spoiled by your special someone this Valentine’s Day :)