THIS IS A TRANSLATED VERSION OF THIS SWEDISH POST!
Today is Valentine’s Day.
Why do we really celebrate Valentine? And why do we celebrate with all these hearts, boxes of chocolate, and roses?
In Asia (I’m generalising again – read: in Thailand, in Nepal, and in Japan) Valentine’s Day is huge, and I suspect it is in other Asian countries too, and the big country over there – USA (I haven’t seen for myself how/if the Americans turn into lovesick puppies, so I actually haven’t got a clue – mere speculations.
In Sweden it wasn’t as big when I was a child or when I was young, but it was rather during the 1990’s it grew into this hysteria, which I find is surrounding the day today. When I was visiting Japan just shortly before Valentine’s Day I was a bit shocked, but also amused – there were shops in shopping malls just built for Valentine’s Day, where they were selling appropriate gifts.
Curious as I am, I googled a bit, to see what it’s really about, and ended up on Wikipedia, as usual, and found this:
Valentine’s Day is really just a Christian invention, or, Valentine is a Christian invention. A Valentine is a Christian martyr, who died during the 200 & 300’s, and the 14th February was in the beginning celebrated to honor 2 of these Christian martyrs; Valentine of Rome (Valentinus presb. m. Romae) and Valentine of Terni (Valentinus ep. Interamnensis m. Romae).
The pope Gelasius I implored in the year of 498 we’d celebrate the martyrs on the 14th February. In 1969, however, a lot of the saints were “deleted” from the Roman-Catholic Church, I suppose only the ones good enough were allowed to “remain”, and the Valentines had to go, so this day is no longer officially celebrated by the church. But OMG is it still celebrated by its people!
Ok, so why should we celebrate the ones we love, or hold dear, on this day? What’s roses and chocolate got to do with martyrs?
One believes the connection between romance and love comes from BIRDS mating rituals in February. (?) According to Wikipedia. Chaucer wrote a poem about this; “Parlement of Foules”, ca 1380, which became widely known. A couple of lines:
“For this was sent on Seynt Valentyne’s day
Whan every foul cometh ther to chese (=choose) his make (=mate).”
Even this page claims Chaucer was probably behind the romance. They even take it as far as to suggesting Chaucer invented Valentine’s Day, as we experience and celebrate it today, that he added the romance. There were previously no connections to love or romance, but after his “Parlement of Foules” there are plenty.
People started to write love letters this very day, and 500 years later it became popular to use Valentine’s Day greeting cards, fussy and decorated with laces and silk ribbons.
Valentine smuggled love letters from the dungeon
During the years past, stories have been arising, and today we know how easily a feather becomes a hen, for example, so whether they are true or not, how could one possibly know? One tells the story about the Valentine being celebrated on the 14th February, and how he defied the emperor Claudius II’s ban wed young couples. From the dungeon, previous to his execution, he managed to smuggle a card to the prison guard’s daughter, with whom he was very much in love; the first Valentine card! Apparantly he was also supposed to have been walking around, picking flowers like a lovesick fool, which he gave to random young, loving couples. So that’s why we today send cards/love letters, and give each other flowers. Makes perfect sense!
In Japan they developed further traditions; on Valentine’s Day the girls give chocolate to the ones they like. On White Day, 14th March, the boys have to give something back – a chocolate or something else. This White Day exists in several Asian countries, but is slightly different, depending on country.
Some people don’t like this day, but rather believes it to be pure commercial rubbish, which I’d have to agree upon, BUT you don’t have to fall pray for it. You could avoid the commerciality and celebrate it your own way.
Others don’t like it because they don’t have a loved one (but there’s always a family member who could appreciate some chocolate or a rose), or because they never received anything (I’m part of the last group – I’ve never received a Valentine’s Day gift, not even from boyfriends), there are probably plenty other reasons for not liking the day.
ME? I don’t like it very much, but it’s got more to do with the fact I don’t like anniversaries or feast-days at all. Why? For some reason I’m not even aware of, I’ve always felt that way about any celebrations or festivities.
Valentine’s Day is Oh’s and my anniversary
Today is also Oh’s and my 3 year anniversary. It was when the Chinese moon New Year concurred with Valentine’s Day in 2010 we realised we belonged together. Or rather I got heavily intoxicated, and suddenly he was good enough. 😉 Ever since then I’ve more and more realised he’s more than good enough, and is one of the most decent human beings I’ve ever got the honor of getting to know.
Well, admittedly, Oh and I have been spending the greater deal of these 3 years apart, and we’ve broken up and there’s been a whole heap of back and forth, but we’d still like to acknowledge the day, so today we’re having some cuddle time!
Take care everyone, and HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY!