History and traditions of Valentine's Day

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History and traditions of Valentine's Day
History and traditions of Valentine's Day

History and versions of the origin of the holiday. How is Valentine's Day celebrated around the world? Where is the date strictly banned?

The story of Valentine's Day is an amazing mixture of facts and conjectures, Christian rituals and pagan games, pure reverent love and unprincipled marketing. Everyone decides for himself what to choose from this motley heap, but we want to try in general terms to recall the main versions of the appearance of the holiday, list its main attributes and talk about funny customs that have developed in different countries over the long history of February 14, Valentine's Day.

Versions of the origin of Valentine's Day

Versions of the origin of Valentine's Day

During the existence of the holiday (and this, according to official sources, more than one and a half thousand years), accurate information about its origin has been lost over the centuries. Today, the story of Valentine's Day exists in three versions at once, which makes it even more interesting.

The Legend of the Brave Priest

Lived in the 3rd century AD the harsh emperor Claudius II, who loved military campaigns more than anything else. The ruler drilled his soldiers tirelessly, hoping to mold them into ideal warriors who knew neither fear, nor pity, nor ordinary human weaknesses, and went so far as to forbid young soldiers to start families. Let them think how to serve the fatherland, and not about the beautiful wife and children left at home!

At this time, with the army of the emperor, there was a priest Valentine, who acted as a field doctor. He looked at the despair of lovers, deprived of the opportunity to unite in a sacred ceremony, thought, and began to secretly perform weddings at night, which, of course, could not remain unnoticed for long.

After a while, the truth was revealed, the enraged Claudius ordered that the disobedient be given death, and the future saint, after not keeping him in dungeons for long, cut off his head with a sword. And we still have a tradition on February 14 - the day when, according to legend, the execution took place - to exchange small gifts, warm wishes and tender kisses with those we love. Isn't it a way to pay tribute to the person who sacrificed his life to give the lovers a chance to be together?

It is a pity that documentary evidence of this story has not survived. It is not found either in the chronicles of the emperor or in the biographies of Catholic saints, although among the latter there are three Valentines at once. However, not one of them was seen in secret weddings and did not die under the blow of a soldier's sword.

The story of a young doctor

Another legend describes the history of the emergence of Valentine's Day as follows: once upon a time there lived in Rome a young patrician Valentine, who healed many of ailments thanks to his scholarship, but was thrown into prison by the slander of enemies. People who had previously received help from him did not forget the healer even in misfortune, from time to time passing him notes to the dungeon with gratitude and supporting words.

One of these notes fell into the hands of the head of the prison, and he hastened to bring the news of the talented healer to the dignitary Asteria, whose daughter, Julia, was blind from birth. Asterius turned to a doctor for help, and Valentine healed the girl, after which her father immediately converted to Christianity, and the beauty who had recovered her sight fell in love with her savior with all her heart. And not only fell in love, but also managed to evoke reciprocal feelings in his heart.

However, this story was not destined to end happily. Emperor Claudius found out about the Christian, which inclines his dignitaries to a different faith, and sentenced the guy to death. Anticipating such an end, the young man left a letter to his beloved, ending it with the words "Your Valentine".In memory of this beautiful story, the local residents have a tradition: on February 14, the birthday of the saint who suffered for the faith, to exchange love notes and confessions.

Alas, this legend is most likely far from the truth. Firstly, the history of Valentine's Day dates back not to the 3rd century, in which the emperor-warrior lived, but from 5. And secondly, on February 14, in the Catholic tradition, the merits of the holy brothers Cyril and Methodius, as well as Valentine Interamnsky and Valentin Rimsky, not related to lovers. The Orthodox Church honors Saint Tryphon on this date.

Pan, Fawn and Yuno

If you ask the opinion of scientists who do not have the habit of relying on legends, you can hear a more mundane assumption: they say, the history of Valentine's Day originates from ancient pagan festivals - Lupercalia in Ancient Rome and Panurgy and no less ancient Greece. Both those and others poured into long-term riotous fun in honor of the god Pan, the embodiment of nature and uncontaminated by conventions of passion (in the Roman tradition of Faun or Luperca).

On these days, the priests performed ritual sacrifices and solemn ceremonies, and the people indulged in gulba, and often the whole atmosphere of the holiday was saturated with undisguised eroticism. For example, in some chronicles there are records of real orgies that were organized by the dispersed youth.

There was also such a custom: young ministers of the temples, stripping naked and wrapped in goatskins, ran along the main streets of the city, trying to hit every woman in the way with a leather belt. However, the beautiful Romans did not take offense at all and tried to put any part of the body under attack, since this promised them deliverance from infertility, easy pregnancy and quick birth.

The fact that Lupercalia fell in the last month of winter and, according to some sources, was also dedicated to the goddess of love passion, Yuno Februato, allowed scientists to assume that the legs of Valentine's Day traditions grow straight from those ancient times.

It is known that the Christian Church had a tendency to replace pagan holidays with its own, in order to lead the people to a new faith without unnecessary breaking. Most likely, the same fate befell the Lupercalia, who in 496 were sent “into disgrace” by the decree of the Pope himself. But the customary date was approaching, the soul was asking for rest, traditions declared themselves … and the unbridled joy of "feverish" love was replaced by a gentle, modest holiday in honor of the Catholic ascetic. This is how Valentine's Day began its history.

Note! The second week of February in Europe was called "The Bird Wedding", either with the light hand of the poet Jeffrey Chaucer, who noticed in one of his works that these days birds are starting to look for a mate, or according to some of the forgotten legends.

Valentine's Day symbols

If the holiday on February 14 lost the exact history of its origin in foggy antiquity, then Valentine's Day managed to acquire personal symbols, signs and traditions in full.


Valentine as a symbol of Valentine's Day

One of the most famous and invariable attributes of the holiday is a small confession postcard, which on February 14 is scurried from hand to hand. Anyone who manages to get a girlfriend / boyfriend or just an object of emotional affection by Valentine's Day considers it his duty to report this in a gentle love letter.

What kind of valentines are there:

  • Ready-made purchased;
  • Homemade;
  • Romantic;
  • Funny, and sometimes openly hooligan;
  • Poetic or written in prose;
  • Flat and voluminous;
  • Difficult, over which you have to smash your head before opening;
  • Even sweet ones, written on gingerbread and gingerbread!

Note! In the 18th century, when the popularity of valentines reached their peak, it was customary to write these small confessions-congratulations on velvet paper, decorating with lace, feathers or, if finances allowed, precious stones.Real scrapbooking retro!

Two letters are fighting for the right to be considered the oldest of the thematic messages of love in the history of Valentine's Day. The first, written more than 600 years ago, belongs to the pen of the Duke of Orleans, who sent his wife passionate letters from English captivity. The second dates back to 1477. It was written by an unknown girl, anxiously waiting for a proof of love from a guy and very prosaically hinting at the size of her dowry.


Hearts as a symbol of Valentine's Day

Why does the stylistic image of the heart have such strange outlines, which bear little resemblance to its real anatomical shape? It is difficult to give an unambiguous answer to this question.

It is not known for certain from what century the figure being compared:

  • romance - with a smooth bend of two swan necks;
  • philosophers - with an ivy leaf, plants of poets and lovers;
  • vulgar - with an inverted image of a neat female ass;
  • cynics - with the sylphia plant, which previously served as an abortifacient;
  • musicians - with a lyre;
  • mathematics - with a curve cardioid.

For the first time in this sense, the heart appeared in the illustrations for the novel "The Novel about the Pear", published in 1250, and since then has only gained popularity.

But be that as it may, and today the habit of decorating with images of hearts everything that is possible has reliably fit into the number of the main traditions of Valentine's Day. They are glued to postcards and gifts, painted with lipstick on mirrors and stained glass paints on window panes. They are folded from paper, recalling the ancient art of origami, sewn from felt, twisted from wire, inserted into the paws of teddy bears and other soft toys. Valentines, balloons, boxes of sweets, candles, bouquets, confetti, cakes are made in the shape of hearts … In a word, the history of the holiday on February 14 knows no case where the use of the heart symbol would be inappropriate or excessive. There are not many hearts on this day.

Red roses

Red roses as a symbol of Valentine's Day

The ancient Greeks believed that luxurious red roses found their catchy shade at the moment when drops of the blood of Aphrodite, who wandered the world in search of her beloved Adonis, fell on their petals, at that time white. The desire to return the young man from the kingdom of the dead was so great that the Olympic celestial woman did not pay attention to the thorns and sharp stones that wounded the delicate legs of the goddess, and from her bloody trail a beautiful rose rose above the ground. Which flower would be the best for celebrating Valentine's Day?

They say that the first lovers who thought of presenting a bouquet of red roses to a lady of the heart was Louis XVI, who thus congratulated his wife Marie Antoinette.

Signs and beliefs on February 14

Signs and beliefs on February 14

Couldn't it be overgrown with signs of a holiday that has existed for many hundreds of years? The history of February 14 - Valentine's Day, as we remember, began only in the 5th century, but the very tradition of honoring love at the end of winter has existed for much longer.

Here are some of the most popular signs for Valentine's Day:

  • Those who get married on Valentine's Day will live happily ever after.
  • Whoever calls you first on February 14 will be there until the end of the year.
  • Anyone who stumbles on this day, experiences unrequited love or breaks up with their current partner.
  • But the one who breaks the mirror has nothing to fear from 7 years of misfortune or other misfortunes. Valentine's Day turns bad predictions upside down and promises the lucky one a meeting with true love and strong family happiness.

Note! Popular signs say that a warm, windless Valentine's Day predicts an early sunny spring.

Valentine's Day traditions in different parts of the world

For a long time, the history of Valentine's Day was associated only with the Old World. But gradually the romantic tradition of congratulating loved ones moved across borders, mountains and oceans, spreading almost all over the world. And then it took root, took root and acquired its own local customs.


Valentine's Day in Europe

In European countries, Valentine's Day is celebrated on a grand scale, each of them has its own traditions:

  • England. Earlier Valentine's Day traditions in England instructed lovers to exchange hand-carved wooden spoons decorated with hearts. Today's young people prefer to replace labor-intensive cutlery with homemade baked goods and green apples. And those who are unlucky enough to stay alone on a solemn day are actively guessing for love. For example, it is believed that if a single girl gets up before dawn and looks out into the street, then the first man who passes under the window will be her betrothed. It is interesting that on February 14 in England it is customary to congratulate … their pets: horses, cats, dogs, hamsters, birds and fish. Whatever one may say, but they are also favorites and deserve a holiday.
  • France. It is impossible to book a table in luxurious restaurants and cozy French cafes on this day: they are all filled with cooing couples. It is estimated that on February 14, a record number of marriage proposals are being made in this country! But in terms of gifts, representatives of one of the most romantic nations in the world are surprisingly judicious: instead of sweets and bears, French beauties receive sets of underwear, jewelry and trips abroad. Even with the color of roses, they are original here, choosing scarlet instead of traditionally red ones.
  • Germany. It seems that in Germany the saying that all lovers are a little crazy was taken too literally. How else to explain the fact that St. Valentine in this country is considered the patron saint of the "mournful head", and on February 14, numerous actions are held to draw public attention to the problems of people with mental illness? However, the Germans also did not escape the general enthusiasm for romance. For example, in 2010, a grandiose flash mob of kissing was held here, and gifts with love symbols are sold out on this day with a bang. Instead of teddy bears, German entertainers give … pigs made of fur, porcelain or clay. And also gingerbread with the inscription "You are my sweetness."
  • Denmark. Perhaps the reason for this is the harsh northern climate or the abundance of snow, but the Danes do not honor red roses either. For their loved ones, they try to get a delicate snowdrop or white rose, to which they attach an anonymous poem-congratulation called "gaekkebrev". If the girl manages to guess who the card came from, in return she sends the donor a chocolate egg for Easter.
  • Iceland… Unlike the French, in cold Iceland, no one expects a gift of jewelry. On February 14, a girl hangs a coal on a thin cord around the neck of her chosen one, and the guy in return gives her beloved the same simple decoration made of a small pebble. Together, both pendants symbolize the fire of love, which ignites after a spark is cut out of the stone. It is no coincidence that this holiday ends at the high bonfires that young people kindle in the streets.
  • Finland. But the Finns, having adopted the holiday of February 14 from their western neighbors, changed everything in it and turned Valentine's Day into Friendship Day. And while sociologists are wondering what was the reason - the struggle for equality, the desire to involve those who did not get a couple in the celebration, or the historical inclination of northerners to value calm but time-tested loyalty more than ardent passions, the Finns are actively exchanging gifts, messages on the networks and sweets. All this - without a rigid connection to romance! About 5 million valentines are sold every year in Finland, and the holiday itself is considered the third most popular after Christmas and New Years.
  • Netherlands. Finns are not the only ones fighting for equality. In the Netherlands, they went much further, deciding that on February 14, the age-old gender roles would change places and the young ladies would make a marriage proposal to their beloved.If the man refuses, he will have to make amends to the girl and buy her a new dress. By tradition, made of pure silk.
  • Poland. Although the very existence of St. Valentine (in any case, the one about which the legend speaks) is not confirmed by either science or the Church, tradition claims that part of the skull of the righteous man is kept in the Polish town of Chelmno, where crowds of pilgrims flock on February 14 every year. They say that touching the relics helps to establish a personal life and find love.
  • Italy. It turns out that the original lovers of lasagna, frittata and minestrone are addicted to sweets! In February, Italians buy, give and eat tons of chocolates, gummies and special nuts in a sweet topping, hiding love notes. And also in Italy, as in France, it is customary to get engaged and play weddings on February 14, but only Turin for some reason on this day is called the City of Brides. They say that at certain moments its streets turn white from the abundance of beauties in wedding dresses, hurrying to marry their chosen ones.

North America

Valentine's Day in North America

The main tradition of Valentine's Day in the USA is, of course, valentines, which are sent here not only to beloved ones, but also to parents, grandmothers, grandfathers, friends, close acquaintances and everyone to whom they have warm feelings. It is a widespread custom to send congratulations to lonely people so that they do not stay away from the holiday. They also adore striped red and white caramels and heart-shaped candy packaging.

The northern neighbors of the United States celebrate the holiday just as eagerly. And even, perhaps, on an even larger scale. Parties and dance nights are organized throughout Canada, candy, chocolates and red roses are on sale, and valentines are produced in the tens of thousands.

Both in Canada and in the United States, schoolchildren are actively involved in celebrating Valentine's Day, who are encouraged to make congratulations with their own hands, and then either send them out on their own, or use the services of a special school mail for this.


Valentine's Day in Asia

The holiday came to the Celestial Empire so recently that it has not yet managed to acquire separate traditions. Just like in Europe, Chinese youth throw parties, give each other cute little things, and exchange love confessions. The older generation in China rarely supports the new tradition, preferring the primordially Chinese spring holiday of love.

Original in everything, the Land of the Rising Sun went its own way here too, dividing the celebration into two parts - male and female. First, on February 14, Japanese girls congratulate their strong halves, and a month later, on March 14, it is the turn of the guys to fuss in search of a gift. As a rule, chocolate figurines help to express feelings to the Japanese, well, and who wants to tell about his love to as many people as possible, climbs onto a higher platform and shouts out a love confession with all his might. The most inventive and loud voices receive a prize.

For the holiday on February 14, two types of chocolate are produced in Japan. One, more simply, is called "giri choko" and is handed over to relatives, friends and male colleagues. The other, exquisite honmei, is reserved only for the most beloved. Women usually get white chocolate, as their holiday on March 14 is called "White Day" here.


Valentine's Day in Africa

The Republic of South Africa, long favored by tourists, enthusiastically joined the celebration of Valentine's Day. Long before February 14, houses and shops are decorated with flowers and ribbons on the occasion of the holiday, food for picnics is prepared, and gifts are purchased. In this case, the fun can last up to a week.

A characteristic feature of Valentine's Day here is the custom to wear a piece of paper on the sleeve with the name of a loved one or beloved.


Valentine's Day in Russia

The history of February 14, Valentine's Day, has not developed easily in Russia. At first, whole campaigns were launched against Valentine's Day, calling to protect the country from "harmful Western influence."

Then they tried to replace the Catholic saint with the Orthodox Peter and Fevronya. They allocated a separate date for the holiday in the calendar (July 8), called it the Day of Family, Love and Fidelity, assigned a symbol - a chamomile, and began to actively promote it to the masses. Alas, the Russians were not enthusiastic about the holiday.

Today Saint Valentine is relatively popular in our country. No one fights openly with him, but, according to opinion polls, no more than 28% of Russians celebrate Valentine's Day, and mostly young people.

Is it good or bad? On the one hand, those who vehemently stigmatize Valentine's Day for a purely commercial orientation and the goal of "dissolving" as many people as possible to buy flowers, sweets and soft toys are right in their own way. If the main sign of a high feeling becomes a cardboard heart with a stamped inscription and a gift hastily chosen from hundreds of others of the same type, such a feeling is probably not worth a single day on the calendar, or the effort expended on it.

But if we sincerely love someone, care and wish to make a person pleasant, but in the eternal vanity every now and then we forget to pay attention to him, the holiday-reminder will come in handy more than ever. And it is not so important what saint name he bears. The main thing is to be able to use the date that has arrived in time to say something important to your loved one - not in someone else's words printed on the postcard, but in your own, coming from the depths of the soul. Serve a surprise breakfast in bed. Draw a heart with toothpaste on the shower door. At night, secretly launch two dozen heart balloons under the ceiling. In the end, just hug tightly and say "Love".

If you do all this on February 14, then Valentine's Day definitely has a right to exist. And if you do not stop making small beautiful gestures and after the holiday is over, it will be doubly pleasant.

Where the holiday is not welcome?

National holiday Trndez in Armenia

Surprisingly, the attempts to "expel" Valentin from Russia are far from original. In some places, they managed to keep the holiday on the doorstep.

Saudi Arabia and Iran have imposed a strictest ban on Valentine's Day, so as not to embarrass young minds with the pernicious influence of the West. Here, for the use of traditional symbols of Valentine's Day, a substantial fine is imposed, on February 14, shops are prohibited from selling chocolates and soft toys with hearts in their paws, and flower shops remove red roses from the shelves for a day.

In other countries that did not accept a foreign custom, they acted less radically, simply replacing it with a suitable domestic one:

  • Armenia… The lovers celebrate the national Trndez on February 13 by jumping over the bonfire to heat up mutual affection.
  • Georgia… Love Day (April 15) is celebrated as eagerly as Valentinov, believing that there is never too much of a bright feeling.
  • Kazakhstan… On the same date - April 15 - they remember the heroes of the local epic Kozy Korpesh and Bayan Sulu, who showed the world an example of true and devoted love.
  • Spain… Valentine's Day with songs, festivities and a beauty pageant falls on May 1, while on February 14, men only give flowers to their friends.
  • Brazil… A similar holiday is celebrated on June 12th.

Watch a video about celebrating Valentine's Day:

Valentine's Day is no worse or better than any national holiday on the theme of love. If you want to mark it, mark it boldly, without looking back at anyone (unless this is fraught with a fine and litigation, we do not urge you to break the laws). If you don't want to, don't celebrate. But be sure to find a reason to make your soul mate a pleasant surprise or show concern. Both of you will love it, and your love will bloom brighter than roses under Aphrodite's feet, and it doesn't matter which day it happens.

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