Valentine’s Day: A Worldly Celebration
By Destani Duskey, Work and Travel Intern
Later this week in the United States, everybody will be focused on red roses, chocolates, cute cards, hearts, and all things love, because February 14th is Valentine’s Day. The holiday is often symbolized by a baby Cupid with wings, a bow and arrow. The myth is that anyone who is hit with one of Cupid’s arrows falls in love. Many U.S. Americans celebrate by giving their loved ones and close friends presents and cards.
However, the United States is not the only country that celebrates Valentine’s Day– many other countries celebrate it in similar, but unique ways.
Japan: Like the U.S., it is popular in Japan to give chocolates as presents. There are different types of chocolates to give people depending on if they are a friend, co-worker, or spouse. However on Valentine’s Day, women typically give men chocolates. Men, in turn, give chocolates and presents to women one month later for White Day on March 14th.
South Korea: The South Korean tradition is similar to the Japanese with the gift of chocolates and the holiday of White Day. South Koreans take it even further with a romantic holiday the 14th of every month. Some of these monthly holidays include: Hug Day, Kiss Day, and Rose Day.
Denmark and Norway: In Northern Europe, Valentine’s Day is a considered a game. Men send women silly, rhyming love poems called “Gaekkebrev.” These men then include a clue about who the sender is by writing number of letters in their name, with the receiving guessing who sent them the poem.
Norfolk, England: The English celebrate the day by giving cards, flowers, and chocolates, similarly to how U.S. Americans celebrate it. However, the people in eastern England also have a local tradition: Jack Valentine, a character similar to Santa Claus, is said to leave children treats and little presents while they are sleeping.
Peru: In Peru the holiday is called el Día del Amor y la Amistad, or the Day of Love and Friendship. Instead of giving a bouquet of roses, Peruvians give each other a bouquet of native orchids. Valentine’s Day occurs during the holiday of Carnival, so there are many celebrations going on at this time.
What do you know about the history of Valentine’s Day?
The origin story of Valentine’s Day is a disputing one. However, one romantic story is thus: the holiday dates back to the Second Century of the Roman Empire. The Roman Emperor Claudius II banned marriage for young men, because he thought single men would be better soldiers without romantic attachments. A priest named Valentine continued to perform marriage ceremonies for couples in secret. Emperor Claudius II found out and sent Valentine to jail then to be beheaded. Before he was executed, he fell in love with a guard’s daughter who frequently came to the jail. His last letter to her was signed ‘from your Valentine,’ which is now considered the first Valentine’s Day card. This evolved into the current, annual celebration of love.
So how will you celebrate this international holiday? Share your traditions with CCI Greenheart!