February 14 is a day that many of us are familiar with: a day where love fills the air; when we give a special something to those we love. When we go about celebrating this day, we never stop to think about why we celebrate it.
The Legend of St. Valentine
There are three recognized saints named either Valentine or Valentinus. The most famous legend declares that Saint Valentine was a priest during the third century in Rome. After Emperor Claudius II outlawed marriage for younger men, because he thought single men without wife and children made better soldiers, Valentine disagreed and continued to wed lovers in secret. The emperor found out and declared death upon him. Some say Valentine was killed for helping Christians escape harsh prisons. Others say that Valentine (a jailed young man) wrote love letters to a girl he liked, and even once signed “From Your Valentine” on his last letter before he died. However, many insist that St. Valentine of Terni is the true namesake for this holiday.
The Holiday’s History
Many claim that Valentine’s Day is celebrated in the mid-February in efforts to “Christianize” the pagan festival of Lupercalia. Lupercalia is a violent festival that used to be celebrated on the 15th of February. Lupercalia paired off couples by lottery and included animal sacrifices. At the end of the 5th century, it was replaced with Valentine’s Day. Valentines, or messages, started in the 1500’s. By the 1700’s, printed Valentine’s Day messages and cards were used. Birds are symbolic of this holiday because it was believed that the avian mating season took place in February. Many believe that Valentine’s Day is an offshoot of the festival.
Valentine’s Day Around the World
Candy, flowers, and sweet messages are traditional Valentine’s Day gifts. Chocolates and gift baskets are common as well. Hearts are a symbol of love, so they are found regularly on Valentine messages. In schools, children hand out Valentines to all of their classmates. Traditions for this holiday are different around the world. In Germany, this holiday is really only for adults. Because of this, children don’t give out Valentines in school. In both Japan and South Korea, the women do the gift-giving. A month later, on White Day, men give them gifts and chocolates back. In Italy, the holiday is for lovers only. So, when lovers give each other hazelnut chocolates, they are really exchanging kisses. In Paris, lovers attach a lock onto a famous bridge to symbolize love.
Many iUp students give cards, chocolates, flowers, and homemade goodies to others on Valentine’s day! For many others, this holiday isn’t really a big deal. In fact, some don’t celebrate Valentine’s Day at all. Take a look at these Owl’s special traditions!
Ezra Ragagopal- “Usually I hangout at my house with my friends, and we eat all our candies at once and play the rest of the day fueled on sweets.”
Vivien Philipps-“We bake cookies, but I wouldn’t call it a tradition…”
Brooke Bolinger- “Usually I give out gifts to friends and sometimes do a special dinner with family.”
Ashley Marcus- “Our family always has candy hearts and roses on the table in the morning, along with heart shaped pancakes.”
Addison Wiley- “Not including the Valentine’s Day party at my school, my dad and brother make my mom and I a fancy dinner, typically shrimp or scallops.”
Kylie Wingard- “We make cards as a family.”
Joanna Story- “We don’t have any traditions, but me and my father go to a father-daughter thing each year.”
Nathan Travis- “Some years we compete with our friends to create a box that represents something, and we all hand out valentines to each other.”
Sophia Sokoll- “My grandma gives me a funny Valentine’s Day card.”
Beatrix Matthews- “My mom and I usually cook a steak and share it!”
Susannah Otstott- “My parents always get us those candies in a heart shaped bottle, and sometimes a pink stuffed animal too. We give my mom flowers and exchange gifts first thing in the morning.”
We celebrate a day of love and companionship on Valentine’s Day. However, there is more to the holiday than meets the eye. So, next time you give your loved one a chocolate or Valentine, think of the reason behind this holiday. And remember, there are so many Valentine’s Day traditions around the world! Don’t limit your traditions to what you are familiar with; try out some new ones as well! Happy Valentine’s Day!
History.com Editors. (2018, August 28). History of Valentine’s Day. Retrieved from HISTORY website: https://www.history.com/topics/valentines-day/history-of-valentines-day-2
Src=”https://Secure.gravatar.com/Avatar/?s=96, img C., d=mm, Jan. 27, r=g”>Marissa L., & 2020. (n.d.). 14 Valentine’s Day Traditions from Around the World. Retrieved from Reader’s Digest website: https://www.rd.com/list/valentines-day-around-the-world/#:~:text=%2014%20Valentine%E2%80%99s%20Day%20Traditions%20from%20Around%20the