Did You Know?
Although the mid-February holiday celebrating love and lovers remains wildly popular, confusion over its origins led the Catholic Church, in 1969, to drop St. Valentine's Day from the Roman calendar of official, worldwide Catholic feasts.
While, the origins of the celebration lie shrouded in mystery, one can attribute the celebration of Valentine's Day to the Lupercalia festival―fertility festival―celebrated on February 15th in ancient Rome. It was on this day that young Roman men would be romantically linked to young maidens after drawing out their respective names from a lot.
Still another popular legend surrounding the celebration leads us to St. Valentine or Valentinus who was martyred on this day. As the story goes, Valentinus was a priest during Emperor Claudius' reign in third-century Rome. It was he who married young lovers in secret, much to the annoyance of the Emperor who ordered his death.
Yet another popular story tells us that Valentine was imprisoned and martyred for teaching Christians to escape the harsh Roman prisons. As this story goes, Valentine left a note signed―From your Valentine―for the jailor's daughter whom he had possibly fallen in love with during his imprisonment.
While nothing can be ascertained about the origin of the festival, it makes sense to join the festivities that make the day even special. Here are some unique Valentine's Day celebrations popular around the world.
It was believed that the first man, a young woman spots on this day would be the man (or resembled the man) in her life. As part of the tradition, men gift a box of hazelnut chocolates to the women of their interest.
Part of the tradition followed on this day of love is swapping funny love notes and poems, also known as gaekkebrev. The girls who receive these love notes are expected to guess the name of the sender depending on the number of dots per letter of the name. If she guesses the name right, she receives an Easter egg, later in the year.
As part of a courting custom, the men present a couple of wooden spoons to their beloved. The intricate spoons, decorated with keys―symbolic for his heart; wheels―symbolic of his will to persevere; and beads―symbolic of the preferred number of offspring.
While women receive baskets filled with gourmet food, cheese, wine, and chocolates; the men receive baskets of aged liquors. With its tempting locales and inviting festivities surrounding the day, it is definitely worth celebrating Valentine's Day in Portugal.
The day is also commemorated as Birds' Wedding Day, following the legendary belief that birds come together on this day to find their mates. As part of tradition, lovers pen down verses, lyrics, and sonnets to pay tribute to St. Valentine.
Young kids are encouraged to dole out romantic songs, and are rewarded with hot cross buns, truffles, candies, and toys. Young girls also make it a point to rise early and stand by the window in the hope of spotting their probable life partner. It is believed that the first guy a girl comes across on the morning of Valentine's Day is the one meant for her.
Pigs, which are considered a symbol of luck and lust, are used as pictorial representations adorning greeting cards and gifts. As a part of the celebrations, couples present lebkuchenherzen or heart-shaped ginger cookies inscribed with frosted love messages to one another. Flowers, gifts, cards, and chocolates are also presented to loved ones.
Later, they are supposed to pick a name from the hat, and the resulting couple then has to spend the day together dancing and singing with all other couples. As a part of tradition, young girls receive a gift, and wear the boy's name on either their heart or sleeve.
Women receive either white chocolates, jewelry, or just about anything that resounds the White Day as it is called. The Koreans set aside yet another day the following month―April 14―termed as Black Day, for individuals who haven't received a gift, to lament their single status.
Finland and Estonia
February 14th is celebrated as Ystävänpäivä in Finland, and Sõbrapäev in Estonia, both translate to a day dedicated to friends. Here, it is less of a romantic affair, but a day to celebrate love with friends and family. Exchanging gifts among friends is a tradition that is followed, besides, it is also a popular day for couples to tie the knot.
Lovers in Brazil celebrate Dia dos Namorados on June 12 as a commemoration to the eve of the feast of St Anthony of Padua, popular as the marriage saint. February 14, however, remains a quiet affair as the Brazilian Carnival is held around this time. Lovers Day, as it is so fondly called, is celebrated by exchanging gifts, flowers, chocolates, and cards.
The Chinese celebrate the Qixi Festival, which is the equivalent of Valentine's Day celebrated in the West. Celebrated on the seventh day of the seventh month of the lunar calendar, it commemorates the meeting of the Cowherd star and the Weaver Maid star, otherwise separated by the Milky Way.
Young men present flowers and chocolates to the women they love. Couples generally gaze towards the sky on this day to observe the celestial happening that takes places just once a year.
While the traditions followed by most others around the world are almost similar, the ones mentioned here definitely stand out as being unique and different. This Valentine's how about surprising your valentine by following one of these traditions?