There's no doubt about that Valentine's Day on February 14th is one of America's most popular holidays. More than 62% of Americans celebrate by sending greeting cards and flowers, giving candy or other gifts, enjoying romantic dinners, or all three. But the history behind Valentine's Day turns out to be somewhat surprising. Do you know who invented Valentine's Day, and how did it start?
Who is Saint Valentine?
Who is Saint Valentine? And why was this lovely holiday named after him? It's hard to say. For starters, there are several different saints named Valentine. Experts can't say for sure which one is the man behind the holiday, but some believe it's named after Saint Valentine of Rome, who died in 269 A.D. after defying the Emperor.
Claudius II decided that single men make better soldiers than guys with wives and families, so he outlawed marriage for young men of fighting age. Saint Valentine defied the Emperor's orders and continued performing marriage ceremonies for young, love-struck couples in secret until he was discovered and put to death.
Why Does Valentine's Day Fall on February 14th?
Most experts believe it was picked to keep the tradition of an old Roman festival called Lupercalia. It was a day-long holiday dedicated to love and fertility held on the 15th of February each year. As Christianity spread across the Roman Empire, Lupercalia was outlawed and replaced with a church-approved version held the day before, known as Saint Valentine's Day that took its place.
People believed that February 14th was also the beginning of birds mating season. By the Middle Ages, lovers began giving valentine's to each other. The oldest-known valentine was written in 1415 by Charles, Duke of Orleans to his wife while he was locked up in the Tower of London after being captured in battle. And by the 17th century people in Great Britain had begun a tradition of exchanging Valentine's date cards or letters, Valentine's Day soon caught on in the US as well.
The first mass-produced holiday cards emerged in the 1840s and Valentine's day soon exploded into a major consumer holiday today. An estimated 1 billion Valentine cards are sent each year more than any other holiday except for Christmas. More than 35 million heart-shaped boxes of chocolate are sold and more than 22 million roses are produced for the holiday in a typical year altogether.
Americans spend almost 20 billion dollars on Valentine's Day or an average of some 130 dollars per person per year, while the most popular gifts were candy and flowers. Nearly 20% of Americans splurge on jewelry shelling out as much as four billion dollars annually and those who prefer the ultimate romantic gesture are definitely not alone. A recent survey revealed that as many as 6 million couples are likely to get engaged on February 14th.
7 Unique Valentine’s Day Celebrations Around The World
Did you know that Valentine's Day is not just about heart, candies, chocolates or stuffed animals? You may not know it, but the most romantic day of the year is celebrated differently around the world, while some settle for greeting card in a box of chocolates, others prefer to commemorate the special holiday in a unique way. Here are seven unique Valentine's Day celebration around the world. Let check out them here one by one.
Number 1: Valentine's Day Celebration in France
France is definitely a place synonymous to romance that being said it easily becomes the most romantic destination in the world. It is believed that the very first Valentine's Day card originated from the country. Apparently Charles Duke of Orleans set love letters to his wife while imprisoned in the Tower of London in 1415.
Valentine's Day in France also boasts an event called let's your de amor or drawing for love. In this occasion, men and women gather together and take turns calling out to one another and pair off. Men who were not satisfied with their match could easily leave the woman. Women who were left unmatched on the other hand, gathered around a bonfire where they burned pictures of men who wronged them. Apparently the event became so controversial that the government eventually banned it.
Number 2: Valentine's Day Celebration in Denmark
Valentine's Day in Denmark has its own local twist. Instead of giving red roses, Danes exchange pressed white flowers called snowdrops. Danish Valentine's Day also involves exchanging lovers cards, traditionally these cards are transparent which showed a photo of the card giver. Men also give women kick AB rev a joking letter with a funny poem and signed only with anonymous dots. If the receiver correctly guessed who the sender is, she will receive an easter egg later that year.
Number 3: Valentine's Day Celebration in South Korea
South Korea Valentine's Day is considered one of the most popular holidays for young couples, in fact, it's so popular that variations of the holiday are celebrated from February to April. The celebration starts on February 14th, when women give their men chocolates, candies and flowers, then men take their turn on gifting their partners on March 14th during a holiday called white day.
Those who are single also have their very own holiday called black Day, celebrated every April 14th. This occasion is meant for people to mourn being single by eating dark bowls of black bean paste noodles.
Number 4: Valentine's Day Celebration in Wales
Valentine's Day in Wales is celebrated a bit differently, instead of commemorating St. Valentine, Welsh remember St Dwynwen, their local patron saint unlovers. This special event is celebrated on
January 25th. Traditionally Welsh couples give romantic gifts to each other, particularly, a love spoon. It is usually made of wood with intricate carvings as a token of affection. Today love spoons are also given as a special present during weddings, anniversaries and birthdays.
Number 5: Valentine's Day Celebration in Philippines
In the Philippines, Valentine's Day is celebrated almost completely similar to Western countries,
but what made its celebrations stand out? From the rest is its mass wedding, apparently, many take advantage of the occasion and share a wedding along with the other couples.
Held every February 14th, these mass wedding ceremonies have gained popularity not only in the Philippines but in other countries as well. Hundreds of couples gather at malls, parks, or other public areas to tie the knot or even renew their vows.
Number 6: Valentine's Day Celebration in Italy
Another romantic place to celebrate Valentine's Day is in Italy. The country is unique ways of celebrating the special day, including the Spring Festival. During this event, couples gathered outside to enjoy poetry readings and good music before taking a stroll with their loved ones.
There's also a belief that the first man an unmarried woman saw on Valentine's Day will be the one she would marry within a year, because of that, many single girls wake up before dawn in hopes of spotting their future husbands.
Number 7: Valentine's Day Celebration in China -- Qixi Festival
The Qixi Festival, also known as the Chinese Valentine's Day, falls on the seventh day of the seventh lunar month on the Chinese calendar. There's a romantic love story associated with Qixi.
It says that a fairy named Zhi Nu, who lived in heaven, fell in love with a cow herder named Niu Lang during her trip to earth. Zhi Nu decided to settle down on earth and lead an ordinary life with Niu Lang. However, love between ordinary people and fairy gods is forbidden.
They were punished by the heavenly gods and turned into stars located on opposite sides of the galaxy, watching each other from the impassable distance. They are permitted to meet each other only on the seventh day of the seventh month each year. Magpies gather and make a bridge across the galaxy for them.
Qixi is the most romantic one among all the traditional Chinese festivals. Chinese recall the loyalty of love and wish for happiness on the festival. Despite the fact many feel the festival has taken on a more Western flavour in recent years, it is still a deeply important date in the Chinese calendar, with joint weddings, anniversary celebrations and kissing competitions taking place every year without fail.
Do you have any unique ways of celebrating Valentine's Day? Please share them in the comments section.