On Valentine's Day Facebook is littered with status's and shared links, I'm no exception, all with the theme of love. Some people say that Valentine's is fake and stupid, other's pour their hearts out to their loved ones, some just share funny jokes, and the crazy do all three! I'm going to write a few things about Valentine's Day, some legends and a few traditions around the world. Just for funsies.
Saint Valentine was imprisoned for performing weddings to soldiers who were forbidden to marry. Knowing what fate could be before him, he risked it all to help other's who loved each other have a chance at a life together. I'm not sure why soldiers were not allowed to get married, that's just what it says.
The same Saint Valentine healed the daughter of his jailer, Asterius, and before he was executed he wrote "from your Valentine" as a farewell to her.
Back in the middle ages with Geoffrey Chaucer, when traditionally you courted the one you loved, this was the first official day associated with romance and love. Chaucer was the first person to write an association with Valentine's Day in Parlement of Foules in 1382. By the 15th century, giving gifts of hand-written valentine's, flowers, and candy was already popular.
Many early Saints were named "Valentine". The flower crowned skull of one St Valentine is on display in Rome. That sounds like an amazing date night; going to see a decorated decaying head.
As far as I know, at this time no one celebrated anniversaries and Valentine's day was the day you celebrated love. So for all of those who say Valentine's was created by card companies to make money, you are wrong! It was established long before any mass produced cards were, which wasn't until the 19th century, and was clearly founded on love and romance. How fun to have a mass celebration day for love? It's not like I think Thanksgiving isn't special because we're all celebrating it on the same day, in ways it makes it more special.
Around the world factoids.
The Chinese and South Koreans spend the most money on Valentine's gifts each year.
In China, Valentine's Day is celebrated to commemorate when the legendary cowhearder and weaving maid are allowed to be together. Doesn't seem like a story to move a nation into spending so much on gifts, I guess I'm just not telling it good enough.
South Korea is pretty funny. On February 14th, women give men chocolate. On March 14th, men give women non-chocolate candy. On April 14th, if you didn't give or get a present you have to go out to eat and order black noodles to mourn your single life.
In Korea the 14th of every month is a "love" day with some pretty obscure themes. From January to December: Candle Day, Valentine's Day, White Day, Black Day, Rose Day, Kiss Day, Silver Day, Green Day, Music Day, Wine Day, Movie Day, and Hug Day. I'm glad we only have this once a year! If for no other reason I'm saying it's because I work at a Hallmark!
In Denmark and Norway, Valentine's Day is subtle and sweet. Couples go out to eat for a romantic dinner, maybe a rose is given, or a card sent to a secret love.
In Finland, the name for Valentine's Day translates to "friends day" and they focus more on friendships than just loved ones.
Citizens of Romania already have a love-themed holiday at the end of the month based on Romanian folklore and they get very upset at those who celebrate Valentine's Day for giving in to the Western cookie-cutter of a fake holiday. There's a lot of women here who would fit it perfectly in Romania!
Anciently in India there was a celebration that had a lot to do with Kamasutra and the Love God Kamadeva. Luckily public displays of sexual affection became frowned upon and a more traditional approach to the holiday took form.
Lots of Latin American countries celebrate the Day of Love and Friendship where they also focus on acts of appreciation for friends.
No matter how, when, or where you celebrate or who you're celebrating with, I hope your Valentine's Day is a great one worth remembering!