What is Valentine’s Day?
Every year on 14th February, couples worldwide celebrate their love for each other. Although love can be shared and celebrated throughout the year, Valentine’s Day has become a special day to express love for the special people in our lives.
There are many theories about the origins of Valentine’s Day, but the most popular, tells of a Roman priest called Valentine, who helped young couples get married against Emperor Claudius II’s wishes. He was arrested and executed for his acts and Valentine’s Day became a celebration to honour his sacrifice for love.
Valentine’s Day is a special day for many around the world. The customs, traditions and gifts vary throughout the world. In England, we mark Valentine’s Day by giving cards, flowers or chocolates to our significant others. Many couples also enjoy a nice meal together. Let’s take a look at how people in other countries are hit by Cupid’s bow each year!
Paris has long been considered one of the most romantic cities in the world, so it is little wonder that Valentine’s Day is celebrated there. Valentine’s Day sees couples celebrate by exchanging gifts such as flowers and chocolates to express their love for one another.
The world also owes a common Valentine’s Day tradition to France – Valentine’s Cards. It is believed that the first Valentine’s Day card originated in France when Charles, Duke of Orleans, sent love letters to his wife while in prison in 1415.
Whilst celebrated in August rather than February, Tu B’av is the Israeli version of Valentine’s Day. In biblical times, it served as a matchmaking day for unmarried women to find a spouse. In modern times, it has become a romantic holiday, with weddings and proposals very common, as well as festivals of singing and dancing taking place in the evening. In more recent years, Tu B’Av has become a day for celebrating all forms of love, not just romantic relationships but also friendships, family ties and spiritual connections.
Everything about Italy is romantic – from the cites to the language so it is no wonder Italians know what to do to celebrate love.
Originally, Italians celebrated Valentine’s Day as the Spring Festival, where young romantics would gather in gardens for poetry readings and walks with their beloveds.
Other traditions tell of unmarried girls waking up before dawn to spot their future husbands, with the belief that the first man they saw, they would marry within a year.
Today, Italians celebrate by exchanging gifts, such as Baci Perugina, - a box of small, chocolate covered hazelnuts wrapped with a romantic quote printed in four languages or romantic dinners. Nothing says ‘I love you’ more than Italian food!
Celebrating love is so popular in South Korea that some people devote a whole month to it! Women kick off the celebrations and gift giving on 14th February, but the tables turn on 14th March, otherwise known as White Day, when men are expected to return the favour and give gifts to their sweethearts. White Day also marks the beginning of what many Koreans refer to as “The Month of Love“.
South Koreans even have a holiday for those not so lucky in love. ‘Black Day’ is observed on 14th April, where single friends gather at restaurants and mourn their single status with friends over bowls of Jajangmyeon – noodles in black bean sauce. Some people even wear black too!
Brazilians love to party and need little reason to celebrate. As Carnival is already celebrated in February, Brazilians dedicate 12th June ‘Dia dos Namorados’ to love. As well as the usual exchange of chocolates, cards and flowers, there are large musical and dance performances. Valentine’s Day in Brazil is not just for couples, families often also get together for meals and share the love!
Mexicans are so romantic that they don’t even need to be in a relationship to celebrate Valentine’s Day! On 14th February ‘El Dia del Amor y Amistad’ or Day of Love and Friendship, everyone can celebrate with flowers, cards, and other gifts, regardless of their relationship status.
One day for love isn’t enough for Argentinians! As well as Valentine’s Day celebrations spanning over a week, they also celebrate ‘sweetness week’ in July, where lovers and friends exchange sweets and gifts.
How do you say ‘I love you’ in your language?
Here are just some examples from languages spoken by our lovely staff and teachers at UKCE!
· Spanish – te amo
· German – Ich liebe dich
· French – Je t’aime
· Polish - Kocham cię
· Portuguese - eu te amo
· Hebrew - אני אוהב אותך
· Turkish - Seni Seviyorum
· Basque - Maite Zaitut
· Esperanto - mi amas vin
· Italian - ti amo
New in London and want to find your Valentine? Try coming to our weekly conversation club to practise your declarations of love or join our social programmes – you might find the partner of your dreams!