February 2023 Newsletter
LET’S CELEBRATE LOVE AND FRIENDSHIP!
We are starting the second month of this year and with it, a special day is approaching : Saint Valentine’s Day or as it is also known: The day of love and friendship. Around the world, on this day, we demonstrate with gifts and special offerings our feelings toward our partners and friends.
As Valentine’s Day, it originated when a priest under that name, disobeying Roman law, married soldiers that were strictly forbidden to do so. In the name of love and God, this priest -later a Saint- decided to honor the soldiers’ wishes and the tradition began. Later, the Catholic Church officially recognized this celebration and included it in its Liturgical calendar (removed in 1969).
Regardless of its religious origins, millions of people celebrate February 14 as that special date to show love and dedication to their love partners, exchange gifts, declare their love or simply show gratitude for sincere and good friendship.
This date is celebrated in the Americas, Europe, Asia, Africa and Oceania, with the exception of countries where showing love in public or observing traditions originated in another religion is not accepted. In some countries it is even forbidden by law (this is the case of Saudi Arabia, Uzbekistan, Iran, Malaysia and Pakistan). However, in most countries, people exchange gifts, send flowers and sweets and spend time together. In South Africa, for example, girls print the name of their partners and attach the paper to their sleeves, for everybody to know who conquered their love. In South Korea and Japan, it is women who present their partners with chocolates. A month later, men do the same in return. In the Philippines, Peru and other countries, mass weddings are organized by authorities with a great number of enthusiastic brides and grooms tying the knot at the same time.
In Italy, there is a special place where couples gather to promise love forever: Juliet’s balcony, in Verona. The four-day “Verona in Love” festivities include special tours to Juliet’s house, a romantic film festival, specially curated exhibitions, plays and romantic dinners as well as a half marathon. Lovers also have the opportunity to promise forever love by leaving a love lock in Juliet’s courtyard, just as on the renowned Love Bridge in Paris. Also in France, in a country town known as “The Village of Love” from February 12 to 14, people decorate their houses with red roses, hung hearts from trees, plant new ones to start a new life as a couple, write and post love letters and have beautiful and romantic picnics in their parks.
While in most countries this special date is February 14, in some others it falls at other times of the year. For example, in Wales their celebration is on January 25, when they give each other ornate wooden spoons carved with symbols of love. In Romania, the celebration on February 24 is related to welcoming Spring as well. In South Korea every 14th of the month (from January to September) is designated as a festivity with couples in mind, with the exception of April 14 or Black Day, where single people eat comfort food with black bean sauce to celebrate their status.
In some parts of China, some traditions dedicated to love and couples are celebrated in May and August. In Brazil this celebration is on June 12 as Lover’s Day (Dia dos Namorados) and in Argentina, besides February 14, they dedicate the first week in July as Sweetness Week (Semana de la Dulzura) to exchange sweets for kisses. In Colombia they do it the third Saturday of September.
In Valencia, Spain, October 9 is the day of the couples’ patron saint and traditionally men give their partners decorated marzipan sweets wrapped in a traditional handkerchief.
Here in America, we have the upcoming 14th to show our love with flowers, cards, chocolates or a special gift. However, if you are a romantic traveler, you can literally go around the world with your lover celebrating all yearlong. Just remember to polish your language skills to make the most of those experiences. Happy Saint Valentine’s!