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February 4, 2013 / demarquettechoc

Valentine’s Day Traditions–How Will You Celebrate?

With Valentine’s Day coming up, we’ve been doing a little research on the history and traditions surrounding the centuries-old holiday of love. Cupid, cards, candies, and hearts might be some of the images that come to mind when you think of Valentine’s Day today, but how exactly did 14th February come to be associated with romance and gift-giving?

Pure Champagne Truffles made with Dom Perignon

Pure Champagne Truffles made with Dom Perignon

Valentine’s Day is named after the Christian Saint Valentinus, or Valentine, although little is definitively known about him as a historical figure. There is more than one Saint Valentine recognized by the early church, therefore various legends about him exist. Perhaps the most well-known story claims that he was a priest imprisoned and martyred in third century Rome. Legend has it that Valentine continued to secretly marry young lovers despite a decree that outlawed marriage for soldiers. During his imprisonment, he fell in love with the jailor’s daughter and allegedly wrote a farewell letter to her before his execution signed, “From your Valentine.” This expression continues to be used in cards today.

Valentine’s Day wasn’t officially associated with love and romance until the Middle Ages when themes of unrequited love began to arise. It eventually became an occasion for lovers to express their passionate feelings, which is why it was originally celebrated with love letters, poems, and small gifts. In the 19th century, the holiday became more commercialized when hand-written notes were replaced with mass-produced printed cards. Now, according to the Greeting Card Association, Valentine’s Day is the second largest card-sending holiday (behind Christmas), with an estimated 1 billion cards sent each year. In addition to cards, exchanging gifts of chocolates and flowers is a favourite tradition in the U.K. Other countries that celebrate Valentine’s Day in a similar fashion include the United States, Canada, Mexico, Australia, and France, however it is also celebrated a little differently in many parts of the world. Here are few unique ways other cultures celebrate the 14th of February.

  • On Valentine’s Day in South Korea, the women give chocolate to the men. Then on 14th March (White Day) the men give the women non-chocolate candies. On 14th April, those who didn’t receive a gift on Valentine’s Day or White Day go to a restaurant to eat black noodles and “mourn” their love lives (Black Day).

    Salted Caramel Valentine Hearts

    Salted Caramel Valentine Hearts

  • Valentine’s Day traditions may vary in different parts of the U.K. For example in Norfolk, a mystical character called “Jack Valentine” is known to knock on doors and leave presents and sweets for children before disappearing. Seems like a nice thing to do—but this tradition has left some children quite frightened!
  • In Slovenia, a proverb states that “Saint Valentine brings the keys of roots.” It is thought that in the middle of February the plants begin to grow, so the 14th marks the first day of work in the fields. It is also believed that this is the day when birds propose to one another and get married. This connection between love birds and Valentine’s Day is prevalent in many European cultures.

No matter if you’re celebrating with your sweetheart, your friends, or a bowl of black noodles, we wish you all a very Happy Valentine’s Day!

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