With only two days to go until Valentine’s Day, we have been taking a look at the different traditions celebrated around the world.
Valentine’s Day, also know as Saint Valentine’s Day or the feast of Saint Valentine, is a holiday observed in many countries around the world on February 14th each year. It began as a liturgical celebration of one of the early Christian saints named Valentinus. As with Christian practices, there were many martyrdom stories invented for Valentinus. One popular account of Saint Valentinus of Rome states that the saint was imprisoned for performing weddings for soldiers who were not permitted to marry. It was also stated that he ministered to Christians who were persecuted under the great Roman Empire.
The association with romantic love first began in the High Middle Ages in the circle of famed writer Geoffrey Chaucer as the tradition of courtly love flourished. In 18th century England, it evolved into an occasion where lovers expressed their love for each other by presenting bouquets of flowers, giving sweets and sending greeting cards. And so the tradition spread worldwide and each country has developed their own take on Valentine’s Day.
More Valentine’s Day Traditions Around The World
In the United States, the occasion has been commercialised to a great extent and it is estimated it is the most major gift and card giving day in the US. Popular gifts exchanged every Valentine’s Day include cards, roses, chocolates and candies. Others might prepare special dinners and dance parties are organised all over the country to celebrate the occasion. Some couples hold private celebrations in classy restaurants or in their homes. Some schools hold Valentine ‘s Day dances.
During the years of the Australian gold rush, miners who had money from their newfound wealth of the Ballarat Mines were willing to pay high prices for elaborate valentine gifts. Merchants all over the country would ship many orders that amounted to thousands of pounds at the time. The most extravagant Valentine’s Day gift was made of a satin cushion that was perfumed and decorated in a very romantic manner with colored shells and flowers. Some gifts may also have included taxidermied birds of paradise or humming birds.
Kids in Canada exchange Valentine’s Day cards and gifts with friends. Valentine’s Day parties are held in schools where kids put all their valentines in decorated boxes. Later, the kids or the teacher will distribute these cards to each recipient. Kids are encouraged to make handmade cards. Similarly to the United States, adults give flowers, chocolates and reserve fancy dinners for their loved ones.
In Malaysia, the day of love is celebrated on the 7th day of the 7th month of the lunar calendar. Malaysian women write their phone numbers on oranges before throwing them in the closest river in the hopes that the man of their dreams will pick up the orange. Fruit vendors usually collect the oranges and resell them in the markets with the phone numbers still written on the fruit!
Brazilians celebrate Valentine’s Day and call it Dia Dos Namorados or the Day of Lovers which occurs every June 12th. On the eve of the holiday, Brazilian women write the names of their crushes on folded pieces of paper. Which ever name they pick from the pile the following day will be the one they marry. Other South American countries practice what they call Dia Del Amor y La Amistad, or Love and Friendship Day, where people select a partner to whom they give a secret gift.
The English celebrate Valentine’s Day with great fanfare. Like in many countries, most people express their love with flowers and gifts. But all over Britain, children sing special songs that relate to the occasion and are rewarded with gifts like money, fruits or candy. Another tradition is the breaking of valentine buns with caraway seeds, plums and raisins which is believed to be connected with fertility. No wonder so many English writers link the holiday of Lupercalia with Valentine’s Day.
Traditionally, the Italian celebration of Valentine’s Day was held in the open air where the young would gather in decorated gardens to listen to music and read poetry. The custom, however, steadily ceased with time and has been out of practice for a while now. Present day Italy celebrates Valentine’s Day just like the US and Canda. Couples usually go out for dinners at a romantic restaurant and exchange gifts. One popular Valentine’s Day gift in Italy is the Baci Perugina, a small chocolate-covered hazelnut that contains a small slip of paper with a romantic poem or quote.
France is generally accepted as the most romantic country in the world so it’s no wonder the French have celebrated Valentine’s Day for a long time. It was said that the first ever valentine card originated from France when Charles, Duke of Orleans, sent love letters to his wife while imprisoned in the Tower of London in 1415. Another french Valentine tradition is called Loterie D’Amour or drawing of love. Men and women would enter houses that faced each other and then take turns calling out to each other and then pairing off. Men who were not satisfied with their partner could just leave one woman for another. Any unmatched women would later gather around a bonfire and burn the pictures of the men who wronged them and shout swears and insults to all men. Scary! Over the years, the event became uncontrollable and the government banned the tradition.
Although most Indians see Valentine’s Day as a western import and hesitate to celebrate the day, there exists a large number of people who love the feeling behind the romantic and beautiful festivities. Especially to Indian youngsters, Valentine’s Day is an occasion that signifies love and a day where they express their affection for others. They exchange gifts, cards and flowers just like other countries.
How will you be celebrating Valentine’s Day? Let us know in the comments below!