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Love is in the Air!

Updated: Feb 13, 2022

✦ Celebrating St. Valentine’s Day

Valentines Day, featured on Brilliant-Online
Valentine’s Day is a time to celebrate love

It’s that time of year that those of a romantic persuasion hold very close to their hearts. Valentine’s Day is a time to celebrate love, often to those closest to us but also to those admired from afar. It’s a day synonymous with gifts, flowers, chocolates, romantic candle lit dinners, greeting cards and, increasingly nowadays, heart shaped emojis!

However, Valentine’s Day is not a fixed date in the universal calendar and it may therefore come as a surprise to learn that it is celebrated at different times in different countries throughout the world. Likewise, the manner in which the day of love is celebrated differs around the world, with some weird and wonderful traditions, which we take a look at below.

First things first though – how, when and why did Valentine’s Day originate? Well the simple answer is nobody really knows! That’s right, even seasoned historians can’t quite agree on the origins of the occasion, with several contrasting theories put forward.

What did the Romans ever do for us?

As with a lot of modern civilisation, one theory on the origins of Valentine’s Day suggests we have the Romans to thank. Emperor Claudius II reportedly had two separate men named Valentine beheaded on the day of February 14th in two separate years and it is believed the Catholic Church decided to honour the men as martyrs. It has been further suggested that one of the executed men, Saint Valentine of Terni, had been secretly arranging marriages for Roman soldiers against the wishes of the emperor, thus exentuating the notion of romance.

Another theory professes that it was Pope Gelasius I who, in the 5th century, declared Valentine’s Day a replacement for the Roman festival of Lupercalia. This festival, which took place between February 13-15, saw Romans offer sacrifices to the Gods in the form of a goat or a dog, the hides of which they would then use to whip women, which was believed to make them fertile. Afterwards a lucky dip would be made to matchmake couples who were then supposed to remain together for the remaining year ahead and, if they fell in love, would then marry.

Others believe it was much later that Valentine’s Day claimed its origins, crediting the likes of the old bard himself William Shakespeare and English poet Geoffrey Chaucer for romanticising the occasion, the latter in particular linking love with St. Valentine for the first time in his 14th century works “The Parlement of Foules” and “The Complaint of Mars.”

William Shakespeare Geoffrey Chaucer

Thanks to the works of both men, the occasion gained in popularity in the Middle Ages throughout Britain and the rest of Europe as people hand-crafted cards and wrote personal messages of love and admiration to their chosen ones. Before long, the tradition expanded to the USA, the industrial revolution saw factory-made cards distributed en masse and, in 1913, Hallmark Cards was established and never looked back, with February one of their busiest months of the year.

What to write in a Valentine’s day card?

Here are 75 message ideas plus design templates.

Valentine’s Day is now a huge global business with estimates of close to US$24 billion being spent on the occasion each year. Statistics from state that men are more likely than women to shop for more than one partner, with 20.07% of men saying they will purchase a Valentine’s Day gift for more than one romantic partner, compared to only 6.36% of women.

One day is not enough...

So, with the history and modern day commercials covered, let's take a look at how the special day of love is celebrated around the world.

For the fiery Latinos in Argentina having just one day to celebrate Valentine’s isn’t enough so they instead set aside an entire week during July for “Sweetness Week” which sees sweet treats exchanged for kisses.

Sweet treats, Valentines Day, featured on Brilliant-Online
Sweet treats exchanged for kisses in Argentina

Romance is clearly a big deal in South Korea who go even further in their celebrations than the passionate Argentinians. South Koreans celebrate a day of love not just on February 14th but on the 14th day of every month! This includes Rose Day on May 14th, Kiss Day on June 14th, Hug Day on December 14th and Black Day on April 14th when singletons congregate to console themselves over Jajangmyeon – the local delicacy of delicious black noodles!

Jajangmyeon, Valentines Day, featured on Brilliant-Online
Single people congregate to console themselves over Jajangmyeon in South Korea

Keeping with the food theme, February 14th has also been known as National Chocolate Day in Ghana, a country renowned as one of the world’s largest cocoa exporters. The day celebrates love with special chocolate themed menus in restaurants and cafes and exhibitions and talks on love and chocolate are held throughout the country.

A glass or two of fine wine is synonymous with Valentine’s Day and in Bulgaria February 14th is known as St. Trifon Zarezan Day, otherwise known as Winemakers Day, when couples often express and celebrate their love for one another with a glass or two of some of the nation’s most delicious wines.

Wine, Valentines Day, featured on Brilliant-Online
Couples celebrate their love with a glass with delicious wines in Bulgaria

The passionate nation of Wales celebrates its day of love on January 25th, otherwise known as St Dwynwen’s Day, when a tradition dating back to the 16th century sees lovers exchange intricately carved wooden spoons, known as lovespoons.

All you need is love...

Lovers in the Czech Republic celebrate Valentine’s Day on May 1st, a day that sees couples make a pilgrimage to the statue of poet Karel Hynek Mácha in the capital Prague’s Petrin Park. While there lovebirds will also steal a kiss beneath the cherry blossom trees in the park that is believed to encourage good luck for the year ahead.

In Romania they celebrate on February 24th, a day known as Dragobete or ‘The day the birds are betrothed’. A celebration of love and spring, boys and girls head out to the forest to pick flowers, whilst others wash their face in snow, an act believed to bring health and happiness.

Picking flowers, Valentines Day, featured on Brilliant-Online
Boys and girls head out to the forest to pick flowers in Romania

For Brazilians the day of lovers, better known as Dia dos Namorados, is celebrated on June 12th with St Anthony’s Day, the patron saint of marriage, held the following day. It is a time when many single women looking to find love and hoping to marry will perform rituals, known as simpatias, believed to help their romantic aspirations materialise.

It is widely accepted that it is women who are most spoiled and treated on Valentine’s Day but that is not the case in Japan where it is the men who receive gifts, typically chocolate, on February 14th. Their female counterparts have to wait

a further month as men return to romantic gestures on March 14th.

Chocolate Valentines Day, featured on Brilliant-Online
In Japan, the men receive chocolate gifts on Valentines day

Last but not least, things are toned down somewhat in both Estonia and Finland where February 14th is a day to celebrate friendship as opposed to love. In Estonia this day is known as Sobrapaev and in Finland it is referred to as Ystävän Päivä.

Whenever, wherever or however you celebrate Valentine’s Day, it is clear that love is the message and the answer and we at Brilliant-online hope you enjoy your special occasion with your loved one, with many more romantic-themed times ahead!

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