Let's begin with a quick look at at Saint Valentine himself. In a nutshell, St. Valentine is believed to have been a priest in Rome during the the 3rd century AD. Emperor Claudius ll had banned marriage, believing that married men made bad soldiers. St. Valentine is thought to have arranged secret marriages for these men and was sentenced to death for his crime. While in prison, St. Valentine fell in love with the jailer's daughter. He sent her a love letter and signed it, "your Valentine on this 14th day of February, the day of his execution, as a goodbye." I don't know about you, but I've got a tear in my eye... In 496, Pope Gelasius l, established the feast of St. Valentine.
England - During the middle of the 18th century, Valentine's Day started to take off in England. with lovers sending sweets and cards adorned with flowers, ribbons and images of cupids and birds. Eventually, all those beautiful handmade cards were replaced with commercially-printed one when, in 1913, Hallmark card company began producing them in quantity. Now, over a billion cards are exchanged each year, making Valentine's day the second-largest seasonal card day of the year. The Brits celebrate Valentine's Day much the way the Americans do...with candy, flowers, cards, and gifts
In the United States, Valentine's Day started off being a romantic day; a day of love and romance for couples. The holiday is thought to have been imported by British settlers in the 19th century. Although Hallmark started producing ccommercial Valentine's Day cards in early 20th century, They were not the first to do so. Esther Howland of Massachusetts began making cards with embossed paper lace in 1847. In the second half of the 20th century, it became popular to give gifts along with cards. About this same time, Valentine's Day became, not just for lovers, but for the entire population. Children began giving cards to friends, classmates and teachers, their parents, and grandparents. Many couples choose to become engaged on this day.
France - It is thought that the Valentine's Day card was acually invented by the French. Charles, Duke of Orleans is said to have written the first Saint Valentine card in 1415. People in France once followed a peculiar Valentine's Day custom called "drawing for" whereby unmarried young and old people would go into houses facing each other and begin calling out across from one window to another and pair off with their chosen partner. If the young man failed to be particularly enthralled with his valentine, he would desert her. A bonfire would be lit later where ladies would burn images of their ungrateful lovers and hurl abuses at them. The ritual was eventually abandoned as it left much room for nastiness and ridicule. French government handed-down a decree and officially banned the custom. Today, only lovers celebrate St. Valentine's Day. It is not for children or friends or family...only for those in a romantic relationship.
China - The Chinese have a day devoted to love, but it is quite different than the traditional February 14th celebrations of other countries. Chinese Valentine's Day falls on the 7th day of the 7th lunar month of the Chinese calendar. Following the gift and card-giving traditions of other contries, Chinese lovers visit the Temple of the Matchmaker on the Chinese Valentine's Day and pray for their love and happiness and their possible marriage. Singles, too, visit the temple on this day and ask for their luck in love. On the night of the Chinese Valentine's Day, unmarried girls offer prayers to the Weaving Maid star and seek blessings to become smarter. In some provinces of China, people decorate the ox's horn with flowers on the Chinese Valentine Day. They believe that the ritual will save them from catastrophe. Following an age-old tradition, women will also wash their hair on Valentine's Day night. The following morning, the children wash their face using the same water. They believe is gives them a more natural and beautiful look. Aren't kids natural and beautiful anyway? Just my opinion.
South Africa - The most commonly observed tradition means going out on a romantic date with your special Valentine. Young couples make it a tradition to celebrate the day at a very romantic place. Young girls celebrate the occasion by following the old-age Roman festival of 'Lupercalia.' According to this traditional festival, young girls pin their lovers name on their sleeves. In some places, men also follow this custom. Different events take place in various parts of South Africa. South Africans often attend huge balls where they match their dancing steps and flow in the Valentine mood with different alcoholic beverages. Sounds like a party, to me!
Land of Lily Pad - In my home country, we celebrate Valentine's Day like most other places. The difference is, we give chocolate-covered worms and insects, instead of regular candy. The swampagne flows freely. We decorate our lily pads with bright flowers and there is always plenty of singing. The Lily Pad Chorus Choir, hops around and serenades the entire community. It's a beautiful festival celebrated by young and old alike.
Whether you're in romantic love, or just in love with life, celebrate LOVE in all it's glory this weekend. You know what they say, "Love makes the world do round." Love really is the most important thing. So don't be stingy with yours. The more love love you give, the more love you receive. And isn't that love-ly?