Lisa Smith of Regionz Kidz has graciously shared this interesting post about international Valentine’s Day traditions.
February 14th has come to mean red and pink hearts, flowers, chocolates and Hallmark cards here in the US. But, how did Valentine’s Day become a day that we celebrate with our loved ones? Valentine’s Day began as a saint’s day commemorating Saint Valentine, a Christian martyr. The day became associated with romantic love in the High Middle Ages, when the tradition of courtly love flourished.
The day is most closely associated with the exchange of love notes in the form of “valentines.” Modern Valentine symbols include the winged Cupid and the heart. Since the 19th century, handwritten notes have largely given way to mass-produced greeting cards. The U.S. Greeting Card Association estimates that approximately one billion valentines are sent each year worldwide, making the day the second largest card-sending holiday of the year behind Christmas.
We are all familiar with the US version of the Valentine’s Celebration – but how do other cultures celebrate the Holiday?
In the UK a character called ‘Jack’ Valentine knocks on the rear door of houses leaving sweets and presents for children.
In Wales many people celebrate St Dwynwen’s Day on 25 January instead of, or as well as, St Valentine’s Day. The day commemorates St Dwynwen, the patron saint of Welsh lovers.
In Finland, Valentine’s Day is called Ystävänpäivä which translates into “Friend’s day”. As the name says, this day is more about remembering your friends than your loved ones.
In Slovenia, a proverb says that “St Valentine brings the keys of roots,” so on February 14, plants and flowers start to grow. Another proverb says “Valentin – prvi spomladin” (“Valentine – first saint of spring”), as in some places, Saint Valentine marks the beginning of spring.
In Chinese culture, there is a counterpart to Valentine’s Day, called “The Night of Sevens”; according to legend the Cowherd and the Weaver Maid meet in Heaven on the 7th day of the 7th month of the lunar calendar.
To put a unique spin on Valentine’s Day try incorporating some of the other special traditions practiced by cultures around the world.
1. Leave a present for your child on the doorstep from Jack Valentine
2. Spend time with your friends and encourage your children to do the same. Focus on fellowship more than the feelings of love.
3. Plant flowers, trees or bushes in celebration of the coming of Spring
4. Read the story of the Night of Sevens and discuss it with your children.
Please take a minute and consider that Valentine’s can be a fun and memorable day for children, families, parents and singles alike if we look at the Holiday through a different pair of eyes.
Lisa Smith has a BA in psychology, & is the Owner of Regionz Kidz a multi-cultural infant and toddler clothing line with ethnically diverse characters and designs. She publishes a blog on the Regionz Kidz website that features articles about cultural diversity and children & she is a guest blogger on several other websites and blogs relating to parenting and children’s issues. She is also a monthly contributor to Educated Mommy Magazine. You can contact Lisa directly at: firstname.lastname@example.org
This article was posted on Thursday, February 7th, 2008 at 11:59 am and is filed under China, Countries & Cultures, Finland, Finnish, Holidays Around the World, Languages, Mama Lisa, Slovak, Slovenia, United Kingdom, USA, Valentine's Day, Wales. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.
3 Responses to “Valentine’s Day Around the World”
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February 13th, 2008 at 8:28 pm
I LOVE this story
February 18th, 2008 at 3:19 am
In France, Valentine’s Day is called “la Saint Valentin”. Men usually buy a bunch of roses – usually red, pink or white but preferably red – to their beloved one and women also buy them a present.
March 20th, 2008 at 11:12 pm
I saw the website on A – Z nursery rhymes and i finished my homework in a minute!