Valentine’s Day , also known as the Feast of Saint Valentine, is a day of celebration observed on the 14th of February. Valentine’s Day is celebrated all around the world to varying degrees and the following will explain some of the customs from the United States of America, as well as some other countries. To start, though, a little history: Historians reveal that the day was first associated with romantic love in the days of Geoffrey Chaucer, a famous English poet, and his circle. Chaucer lived in the High Middle Ages and this was when the tradition of courtly love really took hold on the population through literature, plays, and practice. In England during the 18th-century, the day of celebration transformed further into an occasion in which lovers of all types expressed their love for each other by presenting food goods, flowers, and/or sending cards that became known as “valentines“. These remain staples of the holiday today, with the addition of heart-shaped outlines, cut from things such as paper and felt, as well as candy hearts and the image of Cupid. Mass-produced greeting cards have more recently come into the picture, and today feature images of famous cartoons and characters such as SpongeBob, Scooby-Doo, and Angry Birds.
Valentine’s Day in the USA
In American schools, children are often encouraged to bring cards, whether hand made or store bought, to class where they then make and decorate boxes or bags to collect cards (valentines) from their classmates. Baked goods, often with heart shaped sprinkles or pink, red or white frosting are often brought in to share as well. Typically part of the day is reserved for watching a movie or putting on a party/dance. Films such as Be my Valentine, Charlie Brown (1975) or A Chipmunk Valentine (2007) are shown as children enjoy sweet candy hearts and read their Valentine’s Day cards. For teens and adults, dates with a significant other are commonplace as are gifts of boxes of chocolate, stuffed animals, candy, flowers, and jewelry, which are exchanged to demonstrate one’s love. The carnival and movies, as well as sit-down restaurants are frequented on these dates.
Valentine’s Day Around the World
The customs of Valentine’s Day, which started in early modern England, spread throughout the world in different ways. For example, in Mexico, Saint Valentine’s Day is known as Día del Amor y la Amistad or the Day of Love and Friendship. The Amigo secreto or Secret friend is also often celebrated on the 14th of February where an anonymous gift is given to each participant much like the Secret Santa tradition celebrated in the U.S. In Japan, women give gifts to men they are interested in, and if men are interested they return the gesture two to three fold a month later, March 14th, which is known as White Day or Reply Day. A romantic date night is also associated with Valentine’s Day is celebrated on Christmas Eve. South Korean also celebrates White Day in addition to Valentine’s Day. In the Philippines, Saint Valentine’s Day is called Araw ng mga Pusò, which means Day of Hearts. The Day of Hearts is celebrated in much the same way as Valentine’s Day is in the USA. Valentine’s Day in Finland is called ystävänpäivä which translates into “Friend’s Day,” and is not about significant others, but rather remembering friends. There are many more countries out there, and many more Valentine’s Day traditions, so if you find yourself interested to learn more, so a little research and have fun learning!