Where does St. Valentine’s Day Come From?
Come February 14, everything is crammed with hearts. It’s the day of love – St. Valentine’s Day. But… what did this Saint do to become the patron of those in love?
The legend says the Romans executed St. Valentine for having married several couples under the Christian ritual. However, there isn’t enough evidence proving that this is what happened. What we do know is that the English poet Geoffrey Chaucer wrote a poem in the year 1382 to honor the marriage between King Richard II of England and Anne of Bohemia, in which said that their wedding day took place on St. Valentine’s Day, when the birds were looking for a mate. The problem is that the Valentine Chaucer was referring to was the Genovese St. Valentine’s – which is on May 2.
Why then do we celebrate it on February 14? Some believe we have mistaken the Genovese Valentine with other three saints: Valentine of Rome, Valentine of Termi and a third, unknown Valentine. They all coincide on the calendar on February 14. Others think that February 14 was simply the day Romans celebrated the festival of fertility.
If that wasn’t enough, some countries’ St. Valentine’s isn’t even celebrated on Febraury 14. We are going to mention a few of them in case you ever fall in love with somebody who lives there. This day is something you don’t want to get wrong.
- In Brazil, the so-called ‘Día dos Namorados’ is celebrated on June 12. Although its essence doesn’t change much, as couples still interchange presents and cards.
- In China, it’s called “Qi Qiao Jie” but it’s celebrated on the seventh day of the seventh moth of the lunar calendar.
- In Colombia it is called “Día del amor y la Amistad”, and takes places on the third weekend in September since February is part of the school year for most of the country. Plus, it adds weight to one of the country’s most important festivities: the Barranquilla Carnival, named “intangible cultural heritage” by the UNESCO.
- In Egypt it’s celebrated on November 4.
- In Japan, besides the Tanabata festival (their local equivalent to the Chinese Qi Qiao Jie), Saint Valentine’s is celebrated since February, 1958, propelled by a brand of chocolate manufacturers. What’s remarkable about it is that it’s the women who give out chocolates and no just to their significant other, but also to their relatives, friends and co-workers. As a compensation of sorts, men reciprocate the gesture on March 14, called “White Day”, which is said to have been invented by a brand of chocolate manufacturers as well.
Funnily enough, those in Spain who don’t celebrate St. Valentine’s Day claim the festivity was really invented by department stores to make up for the lack of holidays in February.
How confusing… right? Oh well. The important thing here is to love each other. Love is what the world needs!