Valentine’s Day around the World.
With Valentine’s Day just around the corner I thought it would be fun to see how others celebrate Valentine’s Day around the world. Not everyone celebrates with cards and roses…
In Ancient Rome there was a celebration called the Feast of Lupercalia that took place mid February. This involved men who sacrificed animals (usually goats and dogs) and then whipped the women with their hides. The women lined up for this…I can’t make this stuff up!!! It was thought that this ritual would stimulate fertility. Men would then draw the names of women and shack up with them for the rest of the festival….Cute meet right?…this has all the makings of a Hallmark movie!
Who is this Saint Valentine’s guy?
Saint Valentine is said to have been a priest that served in Rome during the 3rd century. An emperor named Claudius II suggested that single men made better soldiers than those that were married with children and thus the emperor outlawed marriage for young soldiers.
Saint Valentine thought this was unjust and started performing secret marriages for the young soldiers that were in love. Sadly the emperor found out and ordered the saint to be put to his death!!!
He died on February 14th, 269
There are other tales such as one that says Saint Valentine was killed while helping Christians that were being tortured in the harsh Roman prisons.
The History Channel has lots of info on all of the Valentines stories and beliefs. It’s all very murky. If you are interested you can read it all HERE
Shakespeare In Love
As the years went on, the holiday grew sweeter thanks in part to Chaucer and Shakespeare who romanticized Valentine’s Day in their work.
Shakespeare mentions Saint Valentine’s Day in both A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Hamlet. He suggests that if two single people meet on the morning of Saint Valentine’s Day they will get married: …
All in the morning betime, And I a maid at your window, To be your Valentine.
Valentine’s Day gained popularity throughout Britain and the rest of Europe. Handmade paper cards became the tokens-du-jour in the Middle Ages.
Eventually, the tradition made its way to the New World. The industrial revolution started producing factory-made cards in the 19th century. In 1913, Hallmark Cards of Kansas City began the mass production of Valentines. February has not been the same since and every country seems to have their own celebrations.
Seven Valentine’s Day celebrations from around the world.
DENMARK…..they got into the game late…they only started to celebrate Valentine’s Day in the 1990s. Friends and sweethearts exchange pressed white flowers called snowdrops. Men give women a ‘joking letter’ called a gaekkebrev. It is a funny poem or letter that is written on intricately cut paper and then signed with anonymous dots. If the lady receiving it can guess who sent the letter she earns an Easter Egg later that year.
I wonder what happens if she doesn’t figure it out? The Easter Bunny doesn’t come? That’s a bit of a jip!
In SOUTH KOREA, Valentine’s Day is a popular three-month event from Feb to April. It all starts with the women on February 14th. They woo their crushes with chocolates, candies and flowers. On March 14th the men step it up with the addition of gifts. This day is referred to as White Day. And for those who don’t have much to celebrate on either Valentine’s Day or White Day, there is a third holiday: Black Day. Not kidding!! On April 14th, it’s customary for singles to mourn their solitary status by eating dark bowls of jajangmyeon, or black bean-paste noodles.
Seriously? First of all….nice name!!….Black Day….perfect for men and women that are probably feeling dark and lonely. Secondly…I think I’d order in so that I don’t have to eat whatever’s in that bowl above…Yuck!
On the eve of Valentine’s Day, women in ENGLAND used to place five bay leaves on their pillows — one at each corner and one in the center — to bring dreams of their future husbands. 🙈Alternatively, they would wet bay leaves with rosewater and place them across their pillows.
Maybe the rose water was an after-thought when the girls realized they smelled like a pot roast or a bowl of soup. Not sure I want to wake up with a bay leaf stuck to the side of my face…that with the bedhead is seriously not a good look on anyone!
In Norfolk England, Jack Valentine acts as a sort of Santa for Valentine’s Day. Children anxiously wait to hear Jack Valentine knock at their doors, and although they don’t catch a glimpse of Old Father Valentine, children enjoy the candies and small gifts left on their porches. He’s kind of an interesting character…you can read about him HERE
Valentine’s Day celebrations in the PHILIPPINES are similar to celebrations we have here with flowers and chocolates, but there is one unique tradition that has swept the country and led to thousands of couples sharing a wedding day on February 14th. Mass wedding ceremonies have gained popularity in the Philippines in recent years. Hundreds of couples gather at public places and malls around the country to get married or renew their vows en masse.
Not a bad idea…have a quick I DO then hit the sales rack at Saks maybe even return the dress for a refund!
A romantic dinner is one way to celebrate Valentine’s Day in ITALY. Originally, Italians celebrated Valentine’s Day as the Spring Festival The young and amorous gathered outside in gardens and such to enjoy poetry readings and music before taking a stroll with their beloved….
hmm….if they were amorous I am going to assume they were doing a bit more than reading poetry!
Another Italian Valentine’s Day tradition was for young, unmarried girls to wake up before dawn to spot their future husbands. It was believed that the first man that a woman saw on Valentine’s Day was the man she would marry within a year.
I wonder how many women had to marry the paper boy!
Today, Italians celebrate Valentine’s Day with gift exchanges and romantic dinners. One of the most popular Valentine’s Day gifts in Italy is Baci Perugina, which are small, chocolate-covered hazelnuts wrapped in paper with romantic quotes. Baci means kisses.
When we think of FRANCE we think of nothing more than romance! Rumour has it that Charles, Duke of Orleans sent love letters in the very first Valentine’s Day card to his poor wife who was imprisoned in the Tower Of London in 1415. (eesh, times were harsh!)
Another traditional Valentine’s Day event was called loterie d’amour– drawing for love. Men and women would fill houses that faced each other. They would take turns calling out to one another and pairing off. Yoo hoo…..Men who were not satisfied with their match could simply leave one woman for another. All the women that didn’t make the cut gathered around a bonfire later that day. The woman then burned pics of the men who wronged them and swore insults at them!!! OMG….lol…I wonder if wine was involved! Apparently, this whole event became so uncontrollable that the French government (obviously men!) banned the tradition altogether!! LOL
On Valentine’s Day in ESTONIA/FINLAND, they celebrate friendship day known as Sobrapaev. This amazing festival is all-inclusive, from couples to singles. So everyone, from family members to friends exchanges gifts and celebrates love.
No Black Day eating black-bean paste, no being whipped with animal hides! Just a fun filled day of love!!
I don’t know about y’all….but I am still laughing about the gals in France!
I’d love to read your comments below on how you plan to celebrate Valentine’s Day? Will you be a woman scorned hurling insults like the French? Will you be sending Baci chocolates to your crush as in Italy? Or like me, and everyone in Estonia…will you be calling your friends, children and grandchildren just to say I love you.