Article By: Shreelatha Nayak Kodialbail
Mangalore, Feb 14: Valentine’s Day or Saint Valentine’s Day is a holy day celebrated on February 14 each year, by millions of people throughout the world. In the west, it is the traditional day on which lovers express their love for each other by sending Valentine’s cards, presenting flowers, or offering confectionery. The day is named after two among the numerous early Christian martyrs named Valentine. The day became associated with romantic love in the High Middle Ages, when the tradition of courtly love flourished.
The day originates from the story of St Valentine, who gifted his still beating heart as a token of his undying love to his mistress on her rejection. Hence, heart-shaped cards are now sent by those who are young at heart to those at the sight of whom their heart misses a beat, as a tribute to his devastating passion and anguish.
The day is celebrated to exchange love notes in the form of ’Valentines’. Modern Valentine symbols include the heart-shaped outline, doves, and the figure of the winged Cupid. But there is a notable difference in both dates and meaning of celebrating Valentine’s day in different parts of the world. At the same time, there is a difference of opinions as to the origin of Valentine’s Day.
Valentine’s Day has local traditions in the UK. In Norfolk, a mystical person called ’Jack’ Valentine knocks on the rear door of houses, leaving behind sweets and presents for children. In Wales, many people celebrate Dydd Santes Dwynwen (St Dwynwen’s Day) on January 25 instead of St Valentine’s Day. The day commemorates St Dwynwen, the patron saint of Welsh lovers. In France, a traditionally Catholic country, Valentine’s Day is known simply as ’Saint Valentin’, while in Spain, it is known as ‘San Valntin’, In France, it is celebrated the same way as other western countries. In Spain, the celebrations are on the like of the UK. In Catalonia it is celebrated similarly with presenting of book or a rose, on ’La Diada de Sant Jordi’ (Saint George’s Day). In Portugal it’s more commonly referred to as ’Dia dos Namorados’, meaning ’Boy/Girlfriend’s Day’.
In Denmark and Norway, Valentine’s Day (14 Feb) is known as Valentinsdag. It is not celebrated to a large extent, but a few people arrange for a romantic dinner with their partners, send a card to a secret love or even hand over a red rose to their beloved. In Sweden, it is called ’Alla hjärtans dag’ or ’All Hearts’ Day’ and was launched by the flower industry for commercial purposes, due to the influence of American culture. It is not an official holiday there, but its celebration is recognized.
In Finland, it is just ‘Ystävänpäivä’ or ’Friend’s day’ and an occasion to remember all friends, along with loved ones and the day is known in Estonia as S’õbrapäev’, which gives a similar sense.
In Slovenia, a proverb says that the people of Slovenia believe that St Valentine brings the keys of roots, and hence plants and flowers start to grow on February 14. The day of love is traditionally March 12, the Saint Gregory’s day and to them, Valentine is the first saint of the spring.
Dragobete is the traditional love day in Romania, which is celebrated on February 24. It is named after a character from Romanian folklore but they have also adopted the Valentine’s day recently. Valentine’s Day is called ’Sevgililer Günü’ in Turkey, which translates into ’Sweethearts’ Day’.
According to Jewish tradition, the 15th day of the month of ’Av - Tu B’ usually late August, is the festival of love. In modern Israeli culture, it is the occasion to express love, propose and exchange gifts.
In Guatemala, Valentine’s Day is known as ’Día del Amor y la Amistad’ or Day of Love and Friendship. Although it is similar to the United States’ version in many ways, it is also common practice to impress one’s friends.
In Brazil, the ’Dia dos Namorados’ or ’Day of the Enamored’, or Boy/Girl friends’ Day is celebrated on June 12, when couples exchange gifts, chocolates, cards and flower bouquets. This day is the eve of Festa Junina’s Saint Anthony’s day, known as the saint of marriage, during which single women perform traditional rituals to find a good husband or boyfriend. The February‘s Valentine’s Day is not celebrated at all, mainly for cultural and commercial reasons.
In most of South America the ’Día del amor y la amistad’ or ‘Love and Friendship Day’ and the ’Amigo secreto’ or ‘Secret friend’ are quite popular and usually celebrated together on the 14th of February but people in Colombia celebrate it on September 20, giving away anonymous gifts.
In Japan, it has become an obligation for many women to give chocolates to all male co-workers. This is known as ’giri-choko,’ derived from the words giri meaning ’obligation’ and ’choko’ meaning ’chocolate’. This contrasts with ’honmei-choko,’ chocolate given to a loved one. Further, the White Day way has emerged, where men are expected to give favour in return to chocolates on March 14.
In South Korea, women give chocolates to men on February 14, and men give non-chocolate candy to women on March 14. In relation to this, the black day is being observed on April 14 by the people with out gifts and eating black noodles and mourning their single life. Koreans also celebrate Pepero Day on November 11, where young couples exchange Pepero cookies. The 14th of every month marks a love-related day in Korea.
In China, The Chinese also have a day devoted to love. Qi Qiao Jie, or the seventh eve, is often referred to as Chinese Valentine’s Day. Here, the annual gift giving commonly associated with St Valentine’s Day doesn’t take place. While an observance on the same day in Korea is called Chilseok, its association is with long faded romance.
The day changes hues in Japan version ‘Tanabata’, which means a weaver for a god and is celebrated on July 7 according to the Gregorian calendar. However, it never is regarded that the celebration is related with the St Valentine’s Day.
In Iranian culture, ‘Sepandarmazgan’ is a day for love, according to Jalali solar calendar of Iran.
In Saudi Arabia, the celebration of Valentine’s Day is considered as an un –Islamic tradition and strictly restricted to the selling of love-related items.
But in India, celebration of Valentine’s Day on February 14 is a recent phenomenon and has caught the fancy of people to some extent. Though some see it as a western import and hesitate to celebrate, there exist a large number of people who love the feeling behind the day, while the opposition groups are also found in large numbers who call it as ’anti-Indian culture’.
Since, the leaders of the organisation alleged that youngsters are adopting an unethical culture, dressed in lousy manner and make indecent proposals.
Previously, to celebrate the day, the shopkeepers and restaurant owners had specially decorated their places with heartshaped red balloons, ribbons, flowers, colourful paper hangings etc. But it was all damaged at once by the leaders giving the threat to the owners as well as couples from past two years.
But will the ‘lovebirds’ create a lively atmosphere witnessing in the city markets, pubs, hotels, coffee shops, cyber cafes with chirping all around, inspite of the threat? or they just go for digital means for sending Valentine’s Day greeting messages such as e-cards, love coupons or printable greeting cards must be wait and watched.