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Κυριακή, 23 Ιουνίου, 2024
ΑρχικήEnglish EditionThings you probably did not know about Valentine’s Day

Things you probably did not know about Valentine’s Day

By Konstantina Kerpinioti,

As we all know, every year on February 14th is Valentine’s Day. This day is dedicated to love and affection; therefore, all lovers make a special gift to their partner. However, there are many things that you may not be aware of, regarding this particular day. Have you ever wondered about the story behind this holiday? Do you have any idea about how Valentine’s Day is celebrated in other countries? How important is this holiday for couples from all around the world? All these questions will be answered in this article.


Should somebody read the history of Valentine’s Day, they will realize that there are many legends associated with St. Valentine. First off, according to the most sovereign legend, Valentine was a Catholic priest, who testified for his faith in Via Flaminia (an ancient Roman road leading from Rome over the Apennine Mountains to Ariminum, Rimini, on the coast of the Adriatic Sea), in 270 AD in the persecutions of emperor Claudius. Valentine was sentenced to death for marrying between couples, thus spreading, and consolidating the Christian faith. Actually, Valentine was sentenced to death by stoning, but because he survived, was beheaded outside the Flaminia gate on February 16th. So, the Catholic church has set the date for its commemoration on February 14th, a date that coincides with a pagan fertility ceremony, Lupercalia (February 15th). According to the traditions of that era, boys and girls lived strictly separated. However, they spent the day of Lupercalia together. In this specific celebration, girls wrote their names on a piece of paper, which they put in a vase afterward. Every boy chose by luck one of those papers (in which the girls had written their names) and in this way, couples were determined for the entire duration of the celebration. Many times, these couples remained together for a whole year and often they fell in love and ended up getting married.

Another legend supports that Valentine was a former bishop of Temi, a city in Southern Umbria (then called central Italy), and was under house arrest, when Judge Asterios, questioning the validity of the Christian region, placed him in a test. He introduced him to his blind daughter and told him to ask him anything he wants, as long as he helps his daughter to see again, a mission that Valentine accomplished. Then, the judge was humiliated and told Valentine to ask him whatever he wanted. Valentine told him to break all the pagan statues he had in three days and then to be baptized. The judge did it and then baptized his whole family. The emperor Claudius did not approve of the decisions of the great judge, so he arrested Valentine because he was responsible for this huge change of the great judge. This legend ends exactly like the previous one.

Some people believed that Valentine helped Christians to break out of the Roman prisons, a place where they were tortured to an extreme degree. When Valentine was captured, he was beheaded.

Another story maintains that, when Valentine was imprisoned in one of the Roman prisons, he fell in love with the blind daughter of a jailer. Shortly before his death, he sent letters to this girl, signing “with love from your Valentine”.

According to another legend, the Saint intervened in a quarrel of lovers, so as to end their fight. In particular, the story states: “One day, while the Saint was growing roses in his garden, he heard a couple arguing very loudly. He cut a rose, went out on the street, approached the couple, and asked them to listen to him. He offered them the rose, blessed them and the love returned between them, a little later they returned and asked the Saint to bless their marriage”.

Saint Valentine, who according to some sources is actually two distinct historical characters who were said to have healed a child while imprisoned and executed by decapitation. Credits to: Fototeca Gilardi. Image source: history.com

Therefore, on February 14th, we honor the memory of a man who, according to the legends, was sacrificed in the name of love and faith. He believed that love and marriage bring people closer to God, which for him meant to love.

Why is Valentine’s Day celebrated on February 14th?

Some people believe that Valentine’s Day is celebrated on February 14th because it coincides with the anniversary of the death of St. Valentine. On the contrary, others maintained that it was decided the feast of St. Valentine to be on February 14th, by the Holy Gelasinos approximately in 495 AD, because in this way, the Christian church wanted to give Christian hypotension to the Roman Lupercalia. There is also another view that correlates Valentine’s Day with the mating of birds.

How Valentine’s Day is celebrated in other countries

  • Bulgaria: In Bulgaria, February 14th is the “Day of St. Trifon Zarezan”, also known as Winemaker’s Day! So, on this day, couples are used to celebrating their love with one or two glasses of local wine.
  • Romania: In Romania, Dragobete, also known as “Birds Engagement Day”, is celebrated on February 24th,  instead of February 14th, and is considered to be a mix of Valentine’s Day and Spring Day. Boys and girls go to the forest to pick flowers, while according to the tradition, they have to rub their face in the snow in order to be healthy and happy simultaneously.
  • South Korea: South Koreans are really romantic! They celebrate love not only on February 14th, but on the 14th day of every month. These celebrations include May 14th, which is the “Day of the Rose”, June 14th, which is the “Day of the Kiss”, and December 14th, which is the “Day of Embrace”.
  • Argentina: It is not enough for the Argentines to celebrate Valentine’s Day on February 14th; moreover, they have also established an entire week in July, which is dedicated to love. That week is called “Sweet Week”, and during this week, they exchange kisses with sweets.
Image source: visithamiltoncounty.com
  • China: Known as Qixi, the Chinese festival of love is held every year on the seventh day of the seventh month, according to the Chinese calendar. The celebration has its origin in the tragic story of two lovers, whose class differences did not allow them to meet more than once a year. On this day, the Chinese make fruit meals and pray for prosperity.
  • Brazil: In Brazil, Valentine’s Day, or Dia dos Namorados, is celebrated on June 12th during the feast of St. Anthony. Unmarried women perform rituals known as simpatias, in the hope that they will get married next year.
  • Philippines: Valentine’s Day in the Philippines is the most popular day for weddings. Thousands of people are getting married that day, and the ceremony is also sponsored by the government, which offers this funding as a form of public offering.

However, there are countries where Valentine’s Day has been banned. These are Malaysia, Indonesia, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, and India.

In Greece, people have not taken this holiday seriously. This is revealed by a survey of 2018, since 48% stated that the day of St. Valentine was like any other day. On the contrary, in Atlantic countries, 53% of women who took part in a survey said they were determined to divorce their partner if he did not provide them with the appropriate gift.

Finally, I strongly believe that we should honor Valentine’s Day suitably. However, I would like to highlight that people should show their love every day, not necessarily by providing their partners with gifts, but by being affectionate with them. This is enough in a society where conditions are becoming increasingly difficult.

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Konstantina Kerpinioti
Konstantina Kerpinioti
She is an undergraduate student at the Department of English Language and Literature at the National Kapodistrian University of Athens. She likes chess, swimming, and travel shows. She is a social and adventurous person and a supporter of gender equality and human rights in general. Also, she is interested in being informed and expressing her opinion on social issues. In addition, she considers self-confidence to be the most attractive element in an individual’s personality. She is a nature lover, and she adores cats. Her motto is that if you try and fight hard, you can achieve anything you want — even the impossible.