Interesting Valentine’s Day Facts & Traditions Around The World
Do you know the origins of Valentine’s day? We think of it as a time to celebrate romance, but the origins of this might surprise you. We do this in the name of St. Valentine, but who was he and why do people celebrate this day? Read on for fun facts about Valentine’s day and how others around the world celebrate this day….
The Legend of St. Valentine
The most popular theory about Valentine’s Day’s origin is that Emperor Claudius II didn’t want Roman men to marry during wartime. Bishop Valentine went against his wishes and performed secret weddings. For this, Valentine was jailed and executed. While in jail he wrote a note to the jailor’s daugter signing it “from your Valentine”.
During the Middle Ages, it was commonly believed in France and England that February 14 was the beginning of birds’ mating season, which added to the idea that the middle of Valentine’s Day should be a day for romance.
Here are a few interesting fun facts and traditions about Valentine’s day around the world
Ever receive an anonymous valentine?
In Victorian times it was considered bad luck to sign a Valentine’s Day card.
Greeting Card Heaven
About 1 billion Valentine’s Day cards are exchanged each year. This makes it the second largest seasonal card sending time of the year
In Finland, Valentine’s Day is called Ystävänpäivä, which translates into “Friend’s day”. It’s more about remembering your buddies than your loved ones.
XXOXOX ‘I Love You’
Many believe the X symbol became synonymous with the kiss in medieval times. People who couldn’t write their names signed in front of a witness with an X. The X was then kissed to show their sincerity.
Wear Your Heart on Your Sleeve
In the Middle Ages, young men and women drew names from a bowl to see who would be their Valentine. They would wear this name pinned onto their sleeves for one week for everyone to see. This was the origin of the expression “to wear your heart on your sleeve.”
Chocolate cures the blues
Physicians of the 1800’s commonly advised their patients to eat chocolate to calm their pining for lost love.
Why are Roses Red?
The red rose was the favorite flower of Venus, the Roman goddess of love.
In the Philippines, during this week, thousands celebrate the season of love by getting married. These ‘mass weddings’ involve hundreds of couples making their vows at the same time.
Japan: Chocolates and White Day
Ladies take note: On Valentine’s Day in Japan, Western traditions are flipped as the women are the ones expected to do the big spending. As Feb. 14 approaches, women flock to chocolate stores to get gifts for their male dates, friends, coworkers and bosses,
Denmark: Snowdrops & Gaekkebrev
The Danish have put their own twist on the American celebration of love. Instead of giving their loved ones roses, the people of Denmark give friends and admirers pressed white flowers called snowdrops, along with traditional Valentine’s cards.
Danish men also give their sweethearts gaekkebrev. These anonymous letters written on an intricately cut piece of paper feature a funny poem or rhyme.
Ghana: Chocolate Day
In 2007, Ghana’s tourism ministry re-branded Valentine’s Day in the hopes of promoting and celebrating Ghana’s contribution to the chocolate industry as one of the largest cocoa exporters in the world. Thanks to those efforts, Feb. 14 is officially the best day of the year, a.k.a. “National Chocolate Day.”
Estonia: Friend’s Day
Being single on Valentine’s Day in Estonia can actually be cause for celebration. On Feb. 14, Estonians celebrate Sõbrapäev or “Friend’s Day” in an effort to include everyone — single or otherwise — in happy festivities. Non-romantic relationships are honored as friends and family members exchange gifts and celebrate fraternal love.
Originally, Italians celebrated Valentine’s Day as the Spring Festival. The young and amorous gathered outside in gardens and such to enjoy poetry and music, then take a stroll with their beloved.
Another Italian Valentine’s Day tradition was for young, unmarried girls to wake up before dawn to spot their future husbands. The belief was that the first man a woman saw on Valentine’s Day was the man she would marry within a year.
Today, Italians celebrate Valentine’s Day with gift exchanges between lovers and romantic dinners. One of the most popular Valentine’s Day gifts in Italy is Baci Perugina, which are small, chocolate-covered hazelnuts wrapped with a romantic quote printed in four languages.
Now that you have learned a bit of history and trivia, now is the perfect time to start planning your dream vacation!
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