The Greeting Card Association says that 1 billion Valentine’s Day cards are sent each and every year, thus making Valentine’s Day the second largest card-sending holiday of the entire year! Also, did you know approximately 198 million roses are produced to celebrate this holiday? Wow! Florists are hard at work on this magical day, spreading love to ever-deserving hearts!
Valentine’s Day: full of roses, chocolates … and love spoons? Yes, you probably are familiar with the American traditions associated with this holiday: sending cards with sweet messages, gifting and or receiving a dozen beautiful roses, or spending an evening out with a loved one. Blissful. However, have you ever stopped to think about Valentines Day around the world? Love knows no boundaries! From Denmark to Wales, this day of affirmation and warmth is celebrated not only in the great USA.
For starters, here’s a little background about this holiday, typically celebrated on February 14. There are many theories as to the origins of Valentines Day. Some say it is in commemoration of Saint Valentine, a Roman priest during the third century. The story goes that after Claudius II banned soldiers to marry, Valentine secretly continued to officiate weddings for couples longing for a lifetime of companionship. However, when word got back to Claudius about his rule breaking endeavors, he had Valentine put to death! Valentine had a heart after love, something a man should be celebrated for, not attacked! Others say this holiday began in the hopes of spreading the Christian faith, one formed upon the ultimate love. Way back when (we’re talking around 498 A.D), it is said that Pope Gelasius I held a feast for St. Valentine in order to deviate away from the pagan fertility festival called Lupercalia, which took placed on the ides of February (February 15). Some people, however, believe Valentine’s day came about solely due to February being the mating season of birdies! Like the boxes of chocolates often gifted on this day, the history of Valentine’s day is surely rich and somewhat a mystery. But what we do know is that people have been and always will be made to love one another, and to see how different cultures show their affection is oh so interesting!
Let’s begin in in Wales! On Valentines Day, it is customary for men to gift love spoons to their special someone. This tradition began long, long ago, when Welsh sailors would spend their time at sea carving symbolic designs into spoons with the dream of presenting their token of love to their special someone once they returned to land. What an honor it’d be to sip soup from a spoon beholding so much love. The little things.
Now let us travel to Finland! This country celebrates the philia, or friendship, love. “Ystavan Paiva,” literally meaning “Friend’s Day,” is a day spent gifting loved ones with silly and sweet cards and just spending quality time. How awesome. Wedding and proposals are often common on this happy day, too. I love this—how about we make every day Ystavan Paiva Day!
Last, let’s enter into the city of love itself, Paris. The Point Des Art bridge was home to 45 tons worth of “love locks.” This may spark an image of those abundantly beautiful lockets sealed tight to the European bridge overlooking a beautiful river stream. However, they have recently been removed (noo!) due to the the weight causing a strain on the infrastructure and also being an “aesthetic spoiler” to some… But whhhat I highly beg to differ. A bridge marking so many love filled memories is architectural gold! However, the love that was sealed will forever remain, adding romance and charm to this breathtaking city. The Eiffel Tower’s sparkle also transcends love into Paris: this year they will be offering couples a chance to skate or dance to their favorite chosen song while overlooking this magnificent and delicately designed lattice tower! And lastly, maybe love is so clearly felt in Paris simply because of the continuous and romantic rhythm of the French language itself being spoken by locals and traveler alike! On Valentines Day in France (similar to the US), gifting love ones with cards is ultra-popular. In fact, it is said that the very first Valentine’s day card may have originated in France. Story goes that Charles, the Duke of Orleans, sent his wife a love letter while he was in prison in the Tower of London. This was in 1415! It just goes to show that at the core, very little has changed. People then and people now love to love. Therefore, a day that enables people to voice love and joy is truly a blessing! So, go out and spread some rosy, happy feels this V-day, and hey, maybe even carve a love spoon while you’re at it!
The quirky and unique traditions make this holiday fascinating. Diving into other cultures and customs enables one to see how beautiful this world is. It makes you (no pun intended) fall in love with people, and life, all the more.