Each year on February 14th many people exchange cards, flowers or perhaps something a tad more intimate with their special “Valentine”. This magical day of romance, that most westerners refer to as Valentines Day is a celebrated day of love that we share with those close to us. A day when people take their loved ones for a romantic dinner, a fun night out to the movies or even take the opportunity to propose or get married.
The origins of Valentines Day is not that clear, I have spent hours today looking into the history of the occasion but what I have found is that it seems that Valentines Day comes from the story of a Roman priest Saint Valentine who chose to sacrifice himself for his religion around February 14th 270 CE. No one seems to know how he became the patron saint of love, however one theory is that the church used the day of his martyrdom to embed Christian philosophies with the pagan festival held around the middle of the month. During the ceremony, girls names would be placed in a box to which the boys would draw out a name.
Thankfully, sending cards or messages to those loved and adored has became the norm. America caught onto the significance of the day, followed by Canada in the mid 19th Century. Early versions of Valentines Days in the US consisted of handmade cards covered in ribbon and lace. Some romantic western women would also adorn their cards with small handpicked flowers and pictures of wild birds.
Today Valentines Day is not just a day to spend with your partners, it is also a time to appreciate our close friends. In Finland, Valentines Day is about celebrating friendships. The day has no romantic content, instead people spent the day sending cards and gifts and spending time with close friends. In fact many countries around the world celebrate the day different to our cultural celebrations.
In Japan, it is only the woman who gives presents, namely chocolates to her loved one. Japanese women are usually too shy to express their love and therefore Valentines Day was the perfect opportunity for women to express their feelings. Unlike western culture, sending a Valentines Day card in Japan is not common, neither is saying Happy Valentines Day.
In Denmark the traditional Valentines gift is pressed flowers, in particular white Snowdrops. Italians are well known for their passionate natures and tend to celebrate the day in a big extravagant way. A traditional Valentines gift in Italy are chocolate covered hazelnuts which is given to a loved one with a romantic note attached that tends to say “Ti Amo” which is Italian for I Love You.
In Spain, they celebrate the occasion over two days. The Spaniards also celebrate St Georges Day when they swap books and roses with loved ones to honour their most gallant of saints who apparently saved a princess from a dragon. In England, traditionally lovers would write a heart warming poem that they would present to their loved one on the day. In Brazil, lovers don’t actually celebrate Valentines Day as we know it, but celebrate Dia dos Namorados which translated means “Lovers Day”. It is celebrated in June and is a holiday for lovers in Brazil to enjoy and celebrate.
It seems that even though some cultures around the world may celebrate a little differently than we do here in Australia, the message is still the same. To take the time to remember those we hold dear to our hearts. To remember and appreciate all that we do and share, and to never forget the kindness and adoration we feel for our loved ones. Whether its a handmade card covered in hand picked flowers, a bouquet of deep red roses or a sexy little black satin nightie, its about remembering our loved ones and letting them know they are always in our heart.
x x x