Valentine's Day History and Traditions14-02-2013
Saint Valentine's Day, commonly shortened to Valentine's Day, is an annual commemoration held on February 14 celebrating love and affection between intimate companions. The day is named after one or more early Christian martyrs named Valentine and was established by Pope Gelasius I in 500 AD.
It was deleted from the Roman calendar of saints in 1969 by Pope Paul VI, but its religious observance is still permitted. 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").
The day first became associated with romantic love in the circle of Geoffrey Chaucer in the High Middle Ages, when the tradition of courtly love flourished. Modern Valentine's Day symbols include the heart-shaped outline, doves, and the figure of the winged Cupid. Since the 19th century, handwritten valentines have given way to mass-produced greeting cards.
Early European society began celebrating Valentine’s Day as a way of being in sync with nature as the second week of February is when birds began to mate.
The “Lover’s Card” is the most popular gift-exchange in Denmark—What was formerly a transparent card that pictured, when held up to the light, a man presenting a woman with a gift is now considered any colorful card given on Valentine’s Day. Another type of card known as “gaekkebrev” is a romantic custom where a man will send this card to his woman of interest. The card contains a rhyme, written by the man but is not traditionally signed by him—only a dot for each letter of his name will appear on the note. If the woman guesses the correct name, she will receive an egg from him on Easter.
Specifically in Rome, the holiday of Lupercalia is paralleled with Valentine’s Day. Most commonly now celebrated in South Africa, this holiday is celebrated on February 15th. Dating back to mythological rituals, the significance of the day was to rid the earth and air of any evils and cleanse the city for Springtime.
Written verse is among the most popular and romantic in Britain, where countless famous sonnets and poems were penned by its authors. Still, many publications will reserve room in its pages for poetry or written materials especially for Valentine’s Day.
Though the Scottish typically treat the day similarly to Americans, their traditions used to be grand and revolved around a festival. An equal number of males and females would attend this party, all names would go into a hat and they the names would then be drawn together in pairs. The male and female chosen together would be each other’s companion for the night which culminated in dancing and gift exchange.
The true tradition of Australia peaked as gold miners became suddenly wealthy and the ability to send overtly-ornate valentines became a sign of wealth. The most heavily-adorned gifts consisted of a box neatly packed with a satin cushion decorated with such riches as colored shells, ribbons and taxidermy hummingbird.
Thanks to a concentrated marketing effort, Valentine's Day is celebrated in some Asian countries with Singaporeans, Chinese and South Koreans spending the most money on Valentine's gifts.
In China, the common situation is the man gives chocolate, flowers or both to the woman that he loves. In Chinese, Valentine's Day is called (traditional Chinese: 情人節). Traditional Chinese Valentine's day is called "qixi" in pinyin, and is celebrated on the 7th day of the 7th month of the lunar calendar, commemorating a fabled day on which the cowherder and weaving maid are allowed to be together. Modern Valentines day is also celebrated on February 14 of the solar calendar each year.
In Republic of China (Taiwan) the situation is the reverse of Japan's. Men give gifts to women in Valentine's Day, and women return them in White Day.
In Japan people typically spend three days dedicated to similar practices of Valentine’s Day. Valentine’s Day itself is celebrated on February 14th as well as much of the rest of the world. On this day, women give the special men in their lives chocolates, usually homemade. Kiri-choco chocolate is for friends and family while hon-mei is for boyfriends and spouses. March 14th or “White Day” is a day when many men reciprocate these sentiments by giving women tokens of their love or even declaring their love for the first time.
Korea celebrates Valentine’s Day and White Day in the same way as Japan. For those individuals in Korea who are not in relationships, April 14th was created as “Black Day.” Not as widely recognized as the other two holidays, Black Day is celebrated when groups of friends who are not currently in relationships will get together and eat jajang (black) noodles.
In Taiwan On Valentine’s Day (Feb. 14) and the holiday of the lunar calendar (July 7) flowers are given to women by the men. Though they’re expensive, the flowers have great significance in their quantity. One rose means “a love” while 11 roses means “favorite,” 99 means “forever” and 108 roses means “Will you marry me?”
In India, in the antiquity, there was a tradition of adoring Kamadev, the lord of love; exemplificated by the erotic carvings in the Khajuraho Group of Monuments and by the writing of the Kamasutra treaty of lovemaking. This tradition was lost around the Middle Ages, when Kamadev was no longer celebrated, and public displays of sexual affections became frowned upon. Around 1992 Valentine's Day started catching in India, with special TV and radio programs, and even love letter competitions. The economic liberation also helped the Valentine card industry.
In modern times, Hindu and Islamic traditionalists consider the holiday to be cultural contamination from the West, result of the globalization in India. Shiv Sena and the Sangh Parvivar have asked their followers to shun the holiday and the "public admission of love" because of them being "alien to Indian culture". These protests are organized by political elites, but the protesters themselves are middle-class Hindu men who fear that the globalization will destroy the traditions in his society: arranged marriages, hindu joint families, full-time mothers, etc.
Despite these obstacles, valentine's day is becoming increasingly popular in India.
However, leftist and liberal critiques of Valentine's day remain strong in India. Valentine's Day has been strongly criticized from a postcolonial perspective by intellectuals from the Indian left. The holiday is regarded as a front for Western imperialism, neocolonialism, and the exploitation of working classes through commercialism by multinational corporations. Studies have shown that Valentine's day promotes and exacerbates income inequality in India, and aids in the creation of a pseudo-westernized middle class. As a result, the working classes and rural poor become more disconnected socially, politically, and geographically from the hegemonic capitalist power structure. They also criticize mainstream media attacks on Indians opposed to valentine's day as a form of demonization that is designed and derived to further the valentine's day agenda.
Mexico, Central and South America
In some Latin American countries Valentine's Day is known as "Día del Amor y la Amistad" (Day of Love and Friendship). For example Mexico, Costa Rica,and Ecuador,as well others. Although it is similar to the United States' version in many ways, it is also common to see people do "acts of appreciation" for their friends.
In Guatemala it is known as the "Día del Cariño" (Day of the Affection).
In Brazil, the Dia dos Namorados (lit. "Day of the Enamored", or "Boyfriends'/Girlfriends' Day") is celebrated on June 12, when couples exchange gifts, chocolates, cards and flower bouquets. This day was chosen probably because it is the day before the Festa junina (Saint Anthony's day), known there as the marriage saint, when traditionally many single women perform popular rituals, called simpatias, in order to find a good husband or boyfriend. The February 14's Valentine's Day is not celebrated at all, mainly for cultural and commercial reasons, since it usually falls too little before or after Carnival, a major floating holiday in Brazil — long regarded as a holiday of sex and debauchery by many in the country— that can fall anywhere from early February to early March.
In Venezuela, in 2009, President Hugo Chávez said in a meeting to his supporters for the upcoming referendum vote on February 15, that "since on the 14th, there will be no time of doing nothing, nothing or next to nothing ... maybe a little kiss or something very superficial", he recommended people to celebrate a week of love after the referendum vote.
In most of South America the Día del amor y la amistad and the Amigo secreto ("Secret friend") are quite popular and usually celebrated together on the 14 of February (one exception is Colombia, where it is celebrated every third Saturday of September). The latter consists of randomly assigning to each participant a recipient who is to be given an anonymous gift (similar to the Christmas tradition of Secret Santa).
In Egypt, Egyptians celebrate Valentine's Day on February 14, and the indigenous Eid el-Hob el-Masri (Egyptian Love Day) on November 4, to buy gifts,and flowers for their lovers. It has been recorded on the February 14th, 2006 flower movement in the country, worth six million pounds, formed a gain of 10 per-cent of the total annual sale of flowers.
In Iran, the Sepandarmazgan, or Esfandegan, is an age-old traditional celebration of love, friendship and Earth. It has nothing in common with the Saint Valentine celebration, except for a superficial similarity in giving affection and gifts to loved ones, and its origins and motivations are completely unrelated. It has been progressively forgotten in favor of the Western celebration of Valentine's Day. The Association of Iran's Cultural and Natural Phenomena has been trying since 2006 to make Sepandarmazgan a national holiday on 17 February, in order to replace the Western holiday.
In Israel, the Tu B'Av, is considered to be the Jewish Valentine's Day following the ancient traditions of courtship on this day. Today, this is celebrated as a second holiday of love by secular people (besides Saint Valentine's Day), and shares many of the customs associated with Saint Valentine's Day in western societies.
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