Valentine’s Story

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By now, you probably have already received tons of advertisements and marketing email regarding Valentine’s Day.  Not to mention that your loved ones keep reminding you this date, February 14th.

So, what’s the origin of this holiday?  Valentine’s Day, short for Saint Valentine’s day was established to celebrate love and affection between intimate companions.  It  named after one or more early Christian martyrs named Valentine and was established by Pope Gelasius I in 496 AD.  It is traditionally a day on which lovers express their love for each other by presenting flowers, offering confectionery, and sending greeting cards (known as “valentines”).

Well, in our modern days, the Valentine’s Day symbols include the heart-shaped outline, flowers especially roses which represent love, doves, and the figure of the winged Cupid. Since the 19th century, handwritten valentines have largely given way to mass-produced greeting cards.

In the USA, Miss Esther Howland is given credit for sending the first valentine cards. Commercial valentines were introduced in the 1800’s and now the date is very commercialized.

Many countries around the world has its own celebrations.

In France, a traditionally Catholic country, Valentine’s Day is known simply as “Saint Valentin”, and is celebrated in similar ways as other western countries.

In Spain, this holiday is known as “San Valentín” and is celebrated the same way as in the U.K, although in Catalonia it is largely superseded by similar festivities of rose and/or book giving on La Diada de Sant Jordi (Saint George’s Day).

Hundreds of years ago in England, many children dressed up as adults on Valentine’s Day. They went singing from home to home. One verse they sang was:

Good morning to you, valentine;
Curl your locks as I do mine —
Two before and three behind.
Good morning to you, valentine.

In Portugal, Valentine’s day is more commonly referred to as “Dia dos Namorados”  or “Boy/Girlfriend’s Day”.

Though it is not an official holiday in Sweden, the day is called Alla hjärtans dag (“All Hearts’ Day”) and was launched in the 1960s by the flower industry’s commercial interests.  The sales of flowers and cosmetics for All Hearts’ Day are only exceeded by those for Mother’s Day.

While in Denmark and Norway, this date is known as Valentinsdag. It is not celebrated to a large extent, but many people celebrate with a romantic dinner with their partner, to send a card to a secret love or give a red rose to their loved one.

As I read that there are similar Asian traditions for this particular date.  In Chinese culture, there is an older observance related to lovers, called “The Night of Sevens”.  According to the legend, the Cowherd star and the Weaver Maid star are normally separated by the milky way (silvery river) but are allowed to meet by crossing it on the 7th day of the 7th month of the Chinese calendar.

Many of us do believe that everyday should be Valentine’s Day, but if you have already made plans for a romantic dinner for two, go ahead and make this date just a little more special!

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