Many people celebrate Valentine’s Day with boxes of chocolate, romantic dinners, shiny gifts, sentimental cards and beautiful flowers. When you think of Valentine’s Day you think of spoiling your loved ones on this day and store aisles lined with hearts and red. So why has February 14 been so synonymous for centuries to so many people?

The History

Much like people today, historians aren’t 100% sure about the origins of Valentine’s Day, which has resulted into many different beliefs of how it originated. Some believe the holiday’s origins were thought to have came from the Roman festival of Lupercalia, which was held in mid-February. The festival, which celebrated the coming of spring, included fertility rites and the pairing off of women with men by lottery. By the end of the 5th century, Pope Gelasius I replaced Lupercalia with St. Valentine’s Day. Also known as St. Valentine’s Day to many, this has been a holiday to celebrate romance since the 14th century.

There are many myths to whom named this holiday and why we celebrate it. There were several Christian martyrs named Valentine, but many believe the day may have gotten its name from a priest who was killed in about 270 ce by the well known emperor Claudius II Gothicus. It is thought that the priest signed a letter “from your Valentine” to his jailer’s daughter, whom he had fallen for and, by some accounts, healed from blindness.

While some believe this myth, others believe something else. They think that it was St. Valentine of Terni, a bishop, for whom the holiday was named. Although this myth is thought by many, it is possible that the two saints could have actually been one person. The two might seem to be known as the same thing but another common legend is also thought of by many.  It states that St. Valentine defied the emperor’s orders and secretly married couples to spare the husbands from war.

Generations later, valentines appeared in the 1500s, and by the late 1700s printed cards had made their debut. The first commercial valentines in the United States were printed in the mid-1800s.

 

Celebrations Around the World

The truth is, regardless if it’s a holiday or not, people all over the world communicate and show their affection towards each other in different ways, everyday. Some show small gestures like gift giving, some show it in writing cards or love letters, some show it through taking your loved one out to dinner or on an extravagant trip. All of which shows us how people celebrate the “day of love” on February 14 so differently all around the world.

The celebration of Valentine’s is not as common as other holidays such as Christmas or Halloween. However, it is still celebrated by many in different ways due to the popularity of the special occasion all around the world. The day is celebrated in some form throughout the world in places such as Costa Rica, India, Japan, Singapore, the United Kingdom, and the United States. How do these places celebrate this special day? Does it have to do with the way they communicate and show each other affection in everyday life? Yes, it absolutely does.

In Costa Rica, Puerto Rico and other Latin American countries the day is marked by people performing “acts of appreciation” for their friends as the day is known as the Day of Love and Friendship.

For years, Valentine’s Day was not a recognized holiday in India since many of its traditions were against the religion. Today, Valentine’s Day celebrations in India are a fairly modern event. Many people in India became aware of the holiday through exposure to western television in the 1990s. Since that time, celebration of the holiday has been through exchanging, cards, gifts or romantic dates.

Valentine’s Day celebrations in Japan are also fairly recent and are mostly a result of known enterprises which popularised the day in the late 1950s and early 1960s. In Japan, it is traditional to exchange gifts of chocolate.

Valentine’s Day in Singapore is celebrated in much the same way as in western cultures. the day in much the same way as in western cultures. It is has been found that 60% of the citizens spend a good chunk of money on gifts, ranging between $100 – $500, making them some of the biggest Valentine’s Day spenders in the world.  

In the UK it is very common for lovers to exchange pastries and sweets made with your own hands. There is a tradition of baking a cake in the shape of a heart, which is given to your loved ones. The British have never been know to make expensive gifts. They buy chocolate sweets, various sweets and valentine’s cards.

In the United States. Americans have celebrated Valentine’s Day since the 19th century. The common holiday is celebrated by lovers, families and in schools all over the nation. In fact, many people in other countries are fascinated by how massive the holiday is here. Valentines are exchanged in schools by young children, large bouquets of flowers are purchased, chocolate and candy sales go up tremendously, and restaurants all around the nation are booked out the whole week of.

Other common traditions are mass wedding ceremonies are commonly performed on Valentine’s Day in the Philippines, and in South Africa, it’s a Valentine’s Day tradition for women to pin the names of their love interests on their shirtsleeves.

Wherever you are in the world, it’s a day to celebrate love in so many different ways. Boostlingo’s network of interpreters are from all over the world enabling us to see different traditions everyday.

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