In many parts of the world, on February 14th, flowers, gifts and chocolates will be exchanged as part of the Valentine's Day celebration. However, the story of why we celebrate this day is a bit of a mystery. The day mixes parts of Ancient Roman rites and Christian traditions. To confuse matters further, there are three different saints named Valentine. It is not the luckiest name in the world, as all three of the them died and became martyrs.
Besides, the United States, many other countries celebrate Valentine's Day too.
In Japan, Valentine's Day is all about chocolate! On February 14th, women in Japan give out two kinds of chocolate. One is called Giri-choco. The other is Honmei-choco. Giri-choco is not expensive and women give these chocolate treats to their friends and male co-workers. Woman make homemade Honmei-choco to give to someone special. In schools, the female students prepare bags of Giri-choco to pass out to their friends.
One month after Valentine's Day, on March 14th, Japan celebrates White Day. Men who received chocolates on February 14 return the favor by giving white-colored treats to the women. Japan celebrated the first White Day in 1978. Candy manufacturers pushed the creation of the holiday as a way to sell more of their products. Several other Asian countries also celebrate White Day, including Vietnam and South Korea.
In the Philippines, Valentine's day is a time of public weddings. Hundreds or even thousands of Filipino couples gather in one place to say “I Do". Local officials lead the mass weddings. The ceremonies are often free, and include flowers, a wedding cake and sometimes even wedding rings.
In Denmark, young people began celebrating the holiday in the early 1990s. While Americans give red roses, young Danes celebrate the day with white flowers called 'Snowdrops'. They give the flowers to both friends and lovers. One of the biggest Danish traditions is the exchange of a lover's card. In the past, these cards showed a photograph of the card-giver offering a gift to their lover. Today, though, any card exchanged on Valentine's Day is called a lover's card.
Also, on February 14, Danish men often give something called a “gaekkebrev". That translates in English to a “joke letter.” They are often written as a poem on specially created paper. But the writer does not sign his name. Instead, he uses dots - one for each letter in his name. According to tradition, if a woman correctly guesses who sent her the joke letter, she gets an Easter egg that same year. (personally, I'd rather have a piece of jewelry - just saying.)
In Brazil, Carnival celebrations overshadow Valentine's Day, so Brazilians mark a similar day later in the year, on June 12th. The holiday is called Dia dos Namorados, or Lovers' Day. Brazilians celebrate with gifts of cards, flowers, and chocolates. But, instead of celebrating Saint Valentine, they celebrate Saint Anthony. The following day, June 13th, is Saint Anthony's Day. The Portuguese Catholic priest was known for helping couples in their relationships. For this reason, Saint Anthony is considered the marriage and matchmaking saint.
(The above information about Valentine's day around the world was found in most part on a website called "Learning English" with an article called, "Valentine's Day Traditions Around the World."
And, did you know?
Approximately 25% of individual valentine cards are humorous, with adults 35 and under being the most likely to send them.
The Greeting Card Association estimates that if we include children's classroom valentines, over one billion valentine cards will be opened this year. Valentine's Day is the second largest card sending time of the year next to Christmas.
It is estimated that women purchase 80 per cent of all Valentine cards, which means that a large proportion of men either forget or aren't very romantic.
3 percent of pet owners buy Valentine gifts for their animals.
Every year 36 million heart-shaped boxes of candy are sold for Valentine's day.
250 million roses are produced each year for Valentine's day.
I'll leave you with this personal Valentine message from me.
"Roses are red, and violets are blue. Thank you, readers, I do love you."
Until my next inspiration...ciao