Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day

Valentine's Day
Is a wonderful way
To make "I love you"
Easy to say'.

--Nicholas Gordon--  

In most parts of the world Valentine's Day is celebrated as a special day to cherish loved ones, especially a spouse or a lover, and when most of us think of Valentine’s Day, we naturally perceive it as a day of love, roses, cards, and chocolate covered kisses. But there is so much more to Valentine’s Day. For example, there is actually no agreement in how the day first began. February was once considered to be the beginning of Spring, and the Romans celebrated it with a young man's rite of passage to the god, Lupercus. February 14th was the eve of Lupercalia, when the names of young girls were written on paper and placed into jars. Young men would draw the name for their partner for the festival, and it was hoped that this might lead to romance. Others say this is a day to honor St. Valentine's death, while others believe that this was an attempt by the Christian church to Christianize the Pagan Lupercalia festival.

According to the story, it is believed that Emperor Claudius II ordered his soldiers not to get married because he believed marriage would negatively impacted their ability to fight...but there was a priest named Valentine who conducted secret weddings anyway. When Claudius realized what Valentine was doing, he ordered him to be executed. Valentine died on February 14, 269 A.D. Legend says that he left a farewell note for the jailer's daughter and signed it, "From Your Valentine".
Now, while Valentine’s Day may have have been named after a Christian saint,  the day itself has long had links to love and fertility. During the Middle Ages, the people in England and France held the belief that February 14th is the traditional day in nature when birds started to look for a mate. This concept soon gained ground amongst lovers, and they deemed that it should be a day of Romance; hence, they began exchanging love notes and simple gifts.
ne'er was struck before that hour
With love so sudden and so sweet.
Her face it bloomed like a sweet flower
And stole my heart away complete.

I never saw so sweet a face
As that I stood before.
My heart has left its dwelling place
And can return no more.

--John Clare--

Valentine's Day is acknowledged and celebrated in many cultures.  In Italy, Valentine's Day is  a day strictly for lovers. It is celebrated in the popular way of giving gifts and flowers.  It has also been a time when couples announce their engagements. Initially, Valentine's Day was celebrated as a Spring festival in Italy, and it was celebrated with festivities held in the open air.. Young people would gather in tree arbors or ornamental gardens and enjoy listening to music and reading of poetry. 

Valentine's Day is also very popular in Australia where they celebrate much like the US and Canada by doing things to strengthen their bonds and relationships with loved ones.   One interesting fact about Australia  is that the men seem to be more romantic and open about love and showing that love than the women.  Valentine's Day Festival is also celebrated with great joy and enthusiasm in France. People take opportunity of the occasion and express love to people close through them.  The history of Valentines Day has a strong association with France, and Valentine's Day cards are believed to have originated from here. 

In Scotland, this is a day of great celebration. People have small get-togethers and candlelight dinners.  Single Scottish men and women customarily become Valentines whenever they meet by a chance encounter on Valentine's Day.  A love-knot is a traditional gift given to a true love on that day.  Just as in many other countries, people in Britain express love for their beloved on this day by presenting them flowers, cards, chocolates and other special gifts.

Japan and Korea celebrate Valentine's Day in ways similar to each other.  On February 14th, the female is the one giving gifts to the man.  The customary gift is chocolate,  and women purchase it for every man close to them. No male is excluded--male friends, family, boss, and even male co-workers--but, of course, that special man in her life gets a larger, more expensive box.  The favor is returned on White Day which falls  on March 14th when  it becomes the male's turn to buy and give gifts to the women who gave them gifts.  In Korea, White Day is often when a man confesses his love for a woman. The holiday continues on, still another month later on Black Day, which is set aside for those who didn't have sweethearts on White Day.

South Africa also celebrates with giving gifts and showing love, and their celebrations can last an entire week. Young women celebrate the occasion Valentines Day by following the Roman festival of Lupercalia, and  during this festival these young girls pin their lovers name on their sleeves.

It is only recently that Valentine's Day has caught on in India.  However, it is mainly the young people celebrate the day.  The older Indian generation tends to view celebrating Valentine's Day as a Western custom and hesitates to celebrate it the way that the younger generation has recently begun---in  much in the same way Western culture does with chocolates, fresh flowers, and other little gifts.

It was about 18 years ago that I almost lost hubby.  He was so close to death.  We'd only been together about a year and a half, but we knew from the start we were soul mates.  One day we were waiting to see his doctor, and little old couple came in.  The two were obviously so much in love.  Hubby looked at me and said, "I wanted to grow old with you.  I wanted us to be like them."  And all I could say as the tears began to well was, "You will."  And a miracle occurred.  Hubby's disease went into remission and has remained so to this day.  The following poem reminds me of that day in the doctor's office. 

Growing Old Together
My, the years are flying by
I cannot slow them down;
What really makes them pleasant
Is the fact that you're around.

You're the bridge to happiness,
The only one I know;
Your love is all I live for,
I could never let you go.

Growing old is not so bad
When it comes to push or shove,
As long as you're beside me
We will always be in love.
The years have been so kind to you
And so well you've done your part;
The proof is in the 'pudding'
By the love that's in your heart.
Years have come and years have gone
And still you make me sigh;
It's true that we'll grow older
But our love will never die.
--Fay Shaw Kinsey--


  1. Happy Valentine's Day -- have fun and a few extra treats! Smooch!

  2. Lovely post...

    Hugs and ♥'s...
    On Valentine Day!

  3. Have to re-read your post when I have more time. An interesting read it looks like. :0)
    Happy Valentines Day Mary.
    Roses are red; violets are blue; so glad the internet, gave me YOU! (((hugs)))

  4. Happy Valentine's Day to you too! This last poem has made me teary eyed. It's exactly how I feel about my "aging honey" XO

  5. Happy Valentines Day Mary. Xavier

  6. Happy Valentines day to you also Mary... enjoy

  7. Belated Valentine wishes Mary hope your day was filled with love. Thanks for lovely post, Valentines day here in Uk this year seems to have grown more than before the shop were filled with cards and expensive flowers and chocolates, the supermarkets offering meal deals blah blah so much preasure on folk.... what ever happend to a simple old sentement of love?? enjoy your day x x

  8. Happy Belated Valentine's Day Mary but I hope you know I love you each day of the year!

    I love the history you gave around this celebratory day...I was most especially touched by your sharing of your hubby and you...sniff, sniff...a few tears appeared in my eyes! You are a lucky woman to have found a love so dear!

    Blessings and Peace!

  9. I hope you had a wonderful Valentine's day! Love the Fay Shaw Kinsey poem, copied it for later use. Thanks so much for sharing!