Valentine’s Day is a time when people show feelings of love, affection
and friendship. It is celebrated in many ways worldwide and falls on
February 14 each year.
What do people do?
Many people around the world celebrate Valentine’s Day by showing
appreciation for the people they love or adore. Some people take their
loved ones for a romantic dinner at a restaurant while others may choose
this day to propose or get married. Many people give greeting cards,
chocolates, jewelry or flowers, particularly roses, to their partners or
admirers on Valentine’s Day.
It is also a time to appreciate friends in some social circles and
cultures. For example, Valentine’s Day in Finland refers to “Friend’s
day”, which is more about remembering all friends rather than focusing
solely on romance. Valentine’s Day in Guatemala is known as Day of Love
Valentine’s Day is not a public holiday in many countries. However, restaurants, hotels and shopping centers may be busy around this time of the year.
The origins of Valentine’s Day are not clear but many sources believe
that it stems from the story of St Valentine, a Roman priest who was
martyred on or around February 14 in the year 270 CE. How he became the
patron saint of lovers remains a mystery but one theory is that the
church used the day of St Valentine’s martyrdom to Christianize the old
Roman Lupercalia, a pagan festival held around the middle of February.
The ancient ceremony included putting girls’ names in a box and
letting the boys draw them out. Couples would then be paired off until
the following year. The Christian church substituted saints’ names for
girls’ names in hope that the participant would model his life after the
saint whose name he drew. However, it was once again girls’ names that
ended up in the box by the 16th century.
Eventually the custom of sending anonymous cards or messages to
those whom one admired became the accepted way of celebrating
Valentine’s Day. There was an increase in interest in Valentine’s Day,
first in the United States and then in Canada, in the mid-19th century.
Early versions of Valentine cards fashioned of satin and lace and
ornamented with flowers, ribbons, and images of cupids or birds appeared
in England in the 1880s.
Hearts, the colors red and pink, roses, images and statues of cupids,
and cupids’ bows and arrows symbolize the feeling of romance and love
on Valentine’s Day. Cupid is usually portrayed as a small winged figure
with a bow and arrow. In mythology, he uses his arrow to strike the
hearts of people. People who fall in love are sometimes said to be
“struck by Cupid’s arrow”. The day focuses on love, romance,
appreciation and friendship.