Valentine’s Day elicits strong feelings in people – positive and negative. There’s the V-Day haters (who’ve had bad relationships or feel pressure because they aren’t currently in a relationship), and the V-Day lovers, (who go about annoying all the haters by declaring how wonderful love is).
I confess, I’m in the lover group, and I live with a romantic man (Mr. Romantic), so there’s no ignoring V-Day even if I wanted to. Which I don’t. So sue me. I believe in love.
Nevertheless, I haven’t always been happy in love, nor have all my relationships been good. Some have been pretty darn awful, and I’ve put in my time feeling irritated with the whole February 14th “rubbing my nose in it” day!
Plus, as I’ve said before, I think our modern Valentine’s Day is harder than ever on couples (see Love Is Harder Online).
But all that aside… does anyone even know how this red-filled, expensive card, long-stemmed roses, dinner out, pressure to express our love event even started?
According to the “experts” (whatever that means), apparently not!
Ask most people and they’ll tell you it’s because of Saint Valentine. But did you know there was more than one Saint Valentine? I sure didn’t. Until I looked it up. No one seems 100% certain which saint it was. Not to mention that the stories of how it all started are just that… legends… about priests performing forbidden weddings, doing miraculous healings, and spreading the gospel of Christ.
Then there’s the folk traditions and various customs that link Saint Valentine’s with the advent of spring. One earth-type version has Saint Valentine doing something mystical with the roots of plants, and causing the season’s new growth.
They weren’t all priests either… there’s a ‘Jack’ Valentine that left sweet treats for children at their back doors. Not sure why he did this, but apparently the kids were scared of him.
My favorite story is that Valentine’s day is when the birds sing songs of love to each other, pick their forever mates and get married. S-tweet!
Valentine’s Day is celebrated in lots of countries around the world, by lots of different names with lots of different legends and stories.
It’s not all just about romantic love either.
In fact, romance didn’t seem to be the main focus in most of the origins surrounding the celebrations. Even now, not every country relates the day with romance.
Some interesting facts, according to Wikipedia:
Estonia and Finland translate Valentine’s Day into “Friends Day”. It’s about showing your friends how much you appreciate them. In Iran, it’s a festival that combines a celebration of the earth with love towards mothers and wives.
Valentine’s Day is illegal in Saudi Arabia, because it’s seen as a distinctly Christian holiday, not sanctioned by Islam. The ban has created a black market there for V-Day shop items, like roses.
The countries that spend the most on Valentine’s Day are China, South Korea, and Singapore.
Sadly, much of the local customs and origins of V-Day are being lost around the world, as the westernized, commercialized version of Valentine’s Day spreads and trumps a lot of the original celebrations. Still, it’s clear that Valentine’s Day is not just about romantic love.
It’s about LOVE, period. Religious love. Love of nature. Love of family and friends.
I definitely think that’s something to celebrate!