Valentine's Day Around the World: I Love You, My Darling
Valentine's Day Around the World
No one really knows the origin of Valentine's Day but it is believed to have likely started in England and France where people began celebrating the time of year when birds and animals begin pairing off for mating. This was generally recognized as mid-February so that may have been responsible for the timing of the holiday. In ancient Greece, February 14th was dedicated to the goddess Juno, but this is thought to be coincidental as Juno was notdirectly associated with love, passion or relationships.
Another mystery surrounding Valentine's Day is that no one is sure how the traditions of the day are related to the Saint it is named after. The Catholic church recognizes seven St. Valentines, and one of those who was martyred late in the 3rd century has a feast set on February 14th. But there is no clear indication he in anyway was a patron of lovers or really had anything to do with the holiday though he was executed for marrying Christian couples which was at the time a crime.
Since the history of Valentine's Day seems to be a little fuzzy and open to interpretation (or maybe just needs someone with a little more patience for research LOL!), I thought it might make a better hub to instead look at how the holiday is celebrated in a few different countries around the world. Love is love after all, but that doesn't mean we all say :I love you: the same way. So would you like to join me on a little journey around the world in search of love and romance? Grab a box of the finest chocolates and let's go!
Je t'aime, ma chérie Valentine.
Let's begin our discussion with France. This is appropriate as it is believed that Valentine's Day cards began with the French. It is believed that a young Frenchman, Charles, Duke of Orleans, was being held in Tower of London after being captured at the Battle of Agincourt in 1415 when he wrote a poem, or "valentine", for his beloved wife.
At one time in France, there was an odd Valentine tradition know as drawing for . People would call out from houses to windows across from them and pair off in couples. If the young man did not care for his valentine, he would desert her. Later, a bonfire would be built and the ladies would burn images of the men who rejected them while insulting them. Eventually the government banned the practice.
These days religious pilgrims will visit the small village of St. Valentin, named after St. Valentine, where many special events and traditional ceremonies are held along with the renewal of wedding vows. Throughout the entire country, cards and gifts are exchanged between romantic lovers and dear friends.
Te amo, mi querida San Valentín.
Now we will travel over to Spain where all those spicy, hot Spanish men are just waiting for us swooning li'l ol' American sweethearts! Valentine's Day in Spajn can be a very elaborate event with the emphasis on gift giving and spending time with your lover. Though it is not officially recognized as a holiday, makeshift flower stands will appear almost everywhere.
Couple will generally give gifts and spend the day together celebrating their love. While focused more on the exchange of gifts, the holiday does not have the commercial feel taht is common in the United States. A handful of roses or a personally written love poem are the standard rather than expensive jewelry or fancy dining.
Te amo, mea lux Valentini.
Tee hee! This is where I could play the dumb blond and pretend I think they speak Latin in Latin America. But everybody knows they only speak Latin Latveria. No wait... That's Latverian! LOL! Anyway, ol' Victor outlawed Valentine's Day there so I guess it doesn't matter. What a party pooper!
By the way, if this section doesn't make sense to you, just ignore it. It was just an inside joke for my comic book friends! :-)
Miluji tě, drahoušku miláček.
We'd better get out of Latveria before Dr. Doom has us thrown in prison for being pro-Valentine's Day, so let's jump over to the Czech Republic where Valentine's Day was not celebrated until about ten years ago. Ah, wouldn't it be nice to say the spirit of love moved the people to embrace the holiday? Well, it would be nice but it would not be true.
For the most part, Valentine's Day was introduced by retailers for purely commercial reasons. During the time between Christmas and Easter, merchants in the Republic needed something to boost sales. The natural choice, of course, was Valentine's Day. Slowly the people embraced it and slowly the day is coming to be seen as a new tradition. Lovers tend to give flowers, chocolates and maybe a bottle of Bohemia Sekt, a Czech wine, but tend to not exchange the cards common in some other countries.
Watashi wa anata o, watashi no saiai no barentain ga daisukidesu.
How about a real treat, my fellow romantic travelers? Let's check out a country with some very distinct traditions on Valentine's Day -- Japan! While the Japanese do indeed celebrate Valentine's Day -- rather enthusiastically in fact -- they have their own way of doing it.
For starters, only the women give gifts, mostly chocolates, to the men they love. Traditionally, Japanese women are too shy to express their love and Valentine's Day was seen as an opportunity for women to speak their mind. Modern Japan has seen some loosening of these cultural restrictions with women being more vocal about their feelings, but still the Valentine tradition continues.
But beware if you receive a gift from a your Japanese lady. it may not be Honmei-choko (true love chocolate) but rather Giri-choko (obligation chocolate). And do not think you are off the hook just because you are a guy. Men are expected to return the gift on March 14th, a Japanese creation known as White Day.
Ich liebe dich, mein Schatz Valentinstag.
Well, we could keep going and going, but i need to get this hub done and get to work planning something special for my special someone, so let's make one last stop in Germany. Here we will find the traditions of France and England have slowly started taking hold, so while not widespread, card giving is becoming more common along with the exchanging of gifts. Germans in general seem to enjoy the holiday, but thus far have only seemed willing to take those first cautious steps on the path to building a new tradition.
What a Wonderful World
Valentine's day is not celebrated everywhere in the world, but has been spreading around the globe over the years. Introduced by commercial interests but fueled by the human desire to express love, Valentine's Day is a holiday that can focus on the very best of mankind -- our ability to love freely and openly. this Valentine Day, do not hide your love. Go all out. If you cannot or do not want to spend lots of money, find more intimate and thoughtful ways to express your love. After all, isn't love all you need?
How to Say "I Love You"...
I love you
Ich liebe dich
Jag älskar dig
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