In this modern day and age, it is common to hear children give their parents or teacher’s platonic “valentines” or greeting cards; out on the streets, friends and even strangers will greet each other “Happy Valentine’s Day” sans the romantic connotation.
Saint Valentine’s day, now shortened to just Valentine’s Day is celebrated yearly on the fourteenth of February to honor love and affection, often, between romantic or intimate partners. The origin of Valentine’s Day was established by Pope Galasius in 500AD, to honor one or maybe more Christian Martyr/s named Valentine. In the high middle ages, in the time of Geofrey Chaucer (Canterbury Tales), Valentine’s Day was associated with courtly love. Courtly love is a man expressing his love and admiration for a woman (love riddled with erotic desire and sexual attraction, commonly) through chivalrous and noble methods so she would deem him worthy.
In modern times, gift giving is not exclusive for men; even women present men with gifts of flowers, candy and greeting cards on this romantic day. During this special day, billions of dollars are spent on commodities and services that are associated with love and affection; flowers, chocolates, stuffed animals, heart shaped ornaments and fat little cupids with bow and arrow, jewelry, perfumes, and fine dining among others.
All around the world, each country has its own distinct way to celebrate this love-filled occasion. In the US, valentine’s has been considered as the major card and gift-giving day, probably next or equal to Christmas. Dinner dates and parties are celebrated all over the country for couples and even families. Even kids join in on this romantic day. Schools organize skits, songs, dance and plays for children’s programs; also, art classes are focused on children creating hand-made valentine’s for their teachers, parents, friends or even crushes and puppy loves. Valentine’s in Canada is celebrated in quite similar fashion.
In Britain, aside from the usual gift and card giving between partners, special songs are performed by children. In turn, children are rewarded with candy, gifts and even money. Special Valentine’s buns are baked in some regions. In Britain, romanticism still prevails as sonnets, poems, and verses are largely published in the days closely preceding Valentine’s.
Japan has a rather remarkable way of celebrating the day of love. On the 14th of February, it is the females who present chocolates to their boyfriends or any male friend to whom they are really close with. On the 14th of March called the White Day, it is the males turn to give gifts to the females who gave them gifts. There are two types of chocolates that are popular during Valentine’s Day, “giri-choco” to represent platonic love and “hon-mei” for romantic love. Honmei is usually made by the girls and not bought, to make it extra special.
In Italy, though greatly commercialized like most Western countries, Valentine’s Day remain somewhat exclusively romantic. The tradition is by giving chocolate covered hazelnuts containing a slip of paper with romantic and poetic quotes in four different languages.
In India, where Valentine’s Day is a recent occurrence brought in from the west, the festival is hyped up so much by media that weeks before the actual date, one can already feel and experience it.
In Denmark, Valentine’s Day is a day of romance that is more youth oriented. Giving of the special Lover’s card, white flowers and the tradition of Gaekkebrev, which is writing of love poems, romantic notes and even funny poems to one’s beloved. These poems are typically anonymous and the lady needs to guess who sent her the poem.
In the Philippines, Valentine’s Day is almost very similar to the US celebration. One tradition unique to the country is the gathering of thousands of couples in the event called Lovapalooza. Lovapalooza is the Philippine’s move to keep the world record, which they have possessed since 2004, of most couple’s kissing in one place. In Thailand, Mass Thai Wedding ceremonies are practiced, including the world’s largest under-water wedding settings. In Israel, men usually propose marriage on this day.
South Africa is a great tourist destination during the day of hearts. Huge dance balls are held, and the whole of South Africa goes all out on the extravaganza. Celebrations are week long and celebrations highlight South African culture. Valentine’s Day celebration does not limit itself to romantic gestures and themes, events such as river rafting and mountaineering are major attractions. The small village of Hermanus and the city of Durban hypes up tourism and are then filled with tourist to celebrate Valentine’s Day amidst exotic scenery.