Valentines day around the world
Though apparently originating from a questionable Roman festival (though no one can pinpoint the exact origin), Valentine’s Day was popularised by the Catholic Church, and then later romanticised by Geoffrey Chaucer and other writers. Fast forward to the 14th February in 21st Century and the notions of religion and strange festivals have faded away, but the idea of love and devotion are stronger than ever… let’s have a look at how the special day is celebrated around the world.
Similarly to our Western version of Valentine’s Day, the Philippines enjoy gifts, nice food and spending time with one another; but interestingly, it’s common for people to take it that step further, and actually get married on the day! This tradition has led to mass weddings in shopping malls, parks and other public spaces, where people get married one after the other as well as renew their vows. Thousands of Filipinos now share this wedding date, which has only heightened the fervour for this day of the year.
Wales celebrate their version of Valentine’s day on the 25th of January, and the day is actually dedicated to the Welsh saint Dwynwen. One of the more interesting traditions of this Welsh holiday is the love spoon (no that’s not a euphemism); these spoons are carved out of wood and have symbols etched into them, which can signify different meanings such as horseshoes, which stand for good luck; wheels, which symbolize support; and keys, which symbolize the keys to a man’s heart.
China’s equivalent of Valentines day has a classic love story behind it. The Cowherd and the Weaver Girl is a myth that is believed to be 2600 years old and revolves around the title characters. The weaver girl is bored of Heaven and travels down to Earth where she falls in love with a lowly cowherd; subsequently the gods find out about this love and the pair are separated, save for one day a year when a flock of magpies make a bridge between the two realms and our lovers are reunited. Chinese tradition dictates that paper offerings are burnt at temples, and newlyweds might worship the celestial couple one last time as they begin their own relationships.
Here at home
One of the most important things about Valentine’s day here in England is the Valentine’s card. The Earliest known version of this is a poem called ‘Farewell to Love’, written by a medieval French Duke named Charles, of Orleans. A classic Valentines evening might consist of going somewhere for dinner, perhaps a movie, maybe a walk and an exchange of gifts.