Valentine’s Day (NM-3)
Everything You Never Knew About Valentine’s Day
Valentine’s Day. The day that a lot of high school girls attempt to plan for a year in advance by chasing after boys just to dump them the next day. Or maybe you’re that one person who doesn’t have a date, so you spend February 14 binge-watching 13 Reasons Why on Netflix. Either way, I bet you never stopped to think about why Valentine’s Day is such a big deal. Here’s everything you never knew about Valentine’s Day.
Like with a lot of holidays and customs, it’s hard to tell exactly when, where, and how it started, but the Romans certainly played a part.
They celebrated Lupercalia, a festival of fertility on February 13-15. During these days, men would sacrifice goats and dogs and then whip women with the hides. Women actually wanted this because they believed that it would make them fertile.
The Romans can also be credited with providing the name for our beloved holiday. Emperor Claudius II executed two different Valentines on the same day—February 14—of two different years. If that’s not a coincidence, I’m not sure what is.
The Legends of Saint Valentine
The Catholic Church recognizes multiple Saint Valentines, and there’s no differentiation between them. One of the most well known legends says that Saint Valentine was a priest who served sometime during the 3rd century. Emperor Claudius II made a law that soldiers couldn’t get married because single men made better soldiers than men with families. When Saint Valentine heard of this, he began performing marriages for them in secret. He was executed after Claudius found out about this defiance.
Different stories say that St. Valentine was executed for helping Christians get out of harsh Roman punishments and prisons. Others say that he sent the first valentine to a girl who visited him while his was in prison. Supposedly, he signed it with “from your Valentine” which is where that traditional saying comes from.
The saying to wear your heart on your sleeve comes from an old Valentine’s Day tradition. During the Middle Ages people would draw their Valentine from a bowl and wear the name on their sleeves for one week. Also during the Middle Ages, it was said that if you were single, you would marry the first person that you met on Valentine’s Day.
Instead of roses, people used to give violet bouquets. These flowers were said to have grown outside of St. Valentine’s jail cell, and he used them to make ink to send secret letters.
Another dead custom is making puzzle purse Valentines. They’re multiple notes that could be read separately but can come together to create a picture. They were very common during the Victorian Era. As well as puzzle purse Valentines, the Victorians would give someone a single glove.
People began making their own Valentine's cards during the Middle Ages. Eventually, this tradition spread to the Americas where the industrial revolution started to cause factory-made cards to become more and more popular. In 1913, Hallmark began mass production of the punny cards that we know today.
Traditions Around the World
Valentine’s Day isn’t just for us, ‘Mericans. This holidays is celebrated all around the globe with many interesting traditions that reflect different cultures. Many places don’t celebrate Valentine’s Day; however, there’s usually a variation with very similar traditions.
Like most places, Valentine’s cards are very common ways of showing someone you care, but the first ones may have originated here. In 1415, when Charles, Duke of Orleans, was imprisoned in the Tower of London, he sent love letters to his wife that are said to be the first Valentine’s cards.
Another French tradition is the loterie d'amour or “drawing for love”. Single people would enter houses that faced opposite of each other, and called out to each other until they were paired off. Men could leave his partner for another. When this was finished, the women who had been left made a bonfire and burned pictures of the men that had rejected them. This tradition has been banned by the French government due to it getting out of hand.
Valentine’s Day is huge in South Korea. There are even multiple variations of the holiday each month from February to April. On February 14, women give men flowers and and various candies. Then, on March 14 (White Day) men give women not only candies and flowers, but gifts too. And finally, on April 14, single people mourn their singleness by eating bean-paste noodles.
Instead of Saint Valentine, the Welsh celebrate Saint Dwynwen, the Welsh patron saint of lovers on January 25. However, this holiday is very similar to our Valentine’s Day.
One traditional gift is a love spoon. These wooden spoons have intricate patterns carved in them. Each symbol has a different meaning like the horseshoe for good luck or the wheel that symbolizes support. This tradition started as early as the 17th century and is still popular today.
In Germany, they give candies and flowers like we usually do, but in addition, they give pigs. The pig represents luck, and can be received in the form of a picture, chocolate, small statues, or any other way that seems fit. They also make heart-shaped ginger cookies with phrases like “I love you”.
* Denmark didn’t start celebrating Valentine’s Day until the 1990s
* Roughly 15% of women send themselves flowers on Valentine’s Day
* The number of candy hearts produced each year is about 8 billion
* In 2017, the total spending for Valentine’s Day topped 18.2 billion dollars (an average of 136.57 dollars spent per person)
* 20% of consumers were estimated to purchase jewelry on Valentine’s Day in 2017
* An average of 1 billion dollars is spent on cards every Valentine’s Day