Valentine’s day history and traditions around the world

Valentine’s Day, also called Saint Valentine’s Day or the Feast of Saint Valentine, is an annual holiday celebrated on February 14. It originated as a Western Christian liturgical feast day honoring one or more early saints named Valentinus, and is recognized as a significant cultural and commercial celebration in many regions around the world, although it is not a public holiday in any country.
Several martyrdom stories associated with the various Valentines that were connected to February 14 were added to later martyrologies, including a popular hagiographical account of Saint Valentine of Rome which indicated he was imprisoned for performing weddings for soldiers who were forbidden to marry and for ministering to Christians, who were persecuted under the Roman Empire. According to legend, during his imprisonment, Saint Valentine healed the daughter of his jailer, Asterius, and before his execution, he wrote her a letter signed “Your Valentine” as a farewell.

  • Latin America
    In some Latin American countries Saint Valentine’s Day is known as “el dia de los enamorados” (day of lovers) or as “Día del Amor y la Amistad” (Day of Love and Friendship). For example, Colombia, Costa Rica, Mexico, and Puerto Rico, as well as others. It is also common to see people perform “acts of appreciation” for their friends. In Guatemala it is known as the “Dia del Carino” (Affection Day).
  • United States
    In the United States, about 190 million Valentine’s Day cards are sent each year, not including the hundreds of millions of cards school children exchange. Additionally, in recent decades Valentine’s Day has become increasingly commercialized and a popular gift-giving event, with Valentine’s Day themed advertisements encouraging spending on loved ones.
  • Israel
    In Israel, the Jewish tradition of Tu B’Av has been revived and transformed into the Jewish equivalent of Valentine’s Day. It is celebrated on the 15th day of the month of Av (usually in late August). In ancient times girls would wear white dresses and dance in the vineyards, where the boys would be waiting for them. Today, Tu B’Av is celebrated as a second holiday of love by secular people (along with Valentine’s Day), and it shares many of the customs associated with Saint Valentine’s Day in western societies. In modern Israeli culture Tu B’Av is a popular day to pronounce love, propose marriage and give gifts like cards or flowers.
  • Philippines
    In the Philippines, Valentine’s Day is called Araw ng mga Puso in much the same manner as in the West. It is usually marked by a steep increase in the price of flowers, particularly red roses.

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