Sunday, 13 February 2011

Valentine's Day Around the World (Legend & Reality)

Saint Valentine is the name of 14 martyred saints of ancient Rome. The name "Valentine", derived from valens (worthy, strong, powerful).
The 14th was also a designated a feast day to honor two Christian saints (at least one named Saint Valentine) martyred by the Roman Emperor Claudius II Gothicus. There is a little bit of love stuff in this part, though -- the reason Saint Valentine was killed (beheaded, actually) was that he continued to marry young couples even though Claudius forbade it. Apparently Claudius thought that married soldiers weren't as good as single soldiers.

In 496 A.D., Pope Gelasius declared February 14 to be the Feast Day of Saint Valentine...Patron Saint of Lovers and Engaged Couples. The patronage of Saint Valentine also extends to epilepsy (from which he is believed to have suffered), bee-keepers, plague, greetings, travellers and young people. Throughout the world, there are several special resorts that exhibit a romantic year-round theme (but particularly on February 14 with elaborate celebrations) and which are named in honor of Saint Valentine...Saint-Valentin in France (also known as "le village pour les Amoureux"), Saint-Valentin in Austria, Saint-Valentin in Quebec, Canada (founded in 1835 and granted the unique distinction of being the only location in the world with permission to use a heart-shaped date stamp on outgoing mail) and Sakuto Cho in Japan.

In Wales, in recent years a trend has developed where many people forgo the traditional Valentine's Day celebration in February to celebrate St Dwynwen's Day on January 25th instead. After all, why wait an additional 3 weeks to profess your love and say 'dwi'n dy garu di' (I love you).
Men LOVE Valentine's Day in Japan. And why not after all? In Japan, it is the day when women GIVE men gifts of chocolate. On February 14th, women present gifts to their male lovers and friends.
Then, on March 14th which is known as White Day (started in 1980), the men return the favour by giving gifts to the women.
Israel, though, gives lovers a second chance to send gifts or give marriage proposals in late August on Tu B'Av which is the festival of love.
Brazilians celebrate the Dia dos Namorados (Day of the Enamored) on June 12th. Likely, this date was chosen as the day to celebrate love because it is just before St. Anthony's Day who was the marriage saint. It is believed that St. Anthony brings good luck on all marriages.
In China, on the 7th day of the 7th lunar month, the Chinese young people celebrate the "Night of Sevens", but gift giving in the traditional European sense is not part of this holiday for the Chinese. However during this festival devoted to love, there are several charming customs.

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