February is the month of love and of Valentine’s Day, one of the most popular in the world. Since at Mash&Co we are mindful to the themes of sharing and feelings on this occasion we did research on the traditions and the celebrations of Valentine’s Day in the world. A starting point for all those who are thinking of an alternative way to spend this day.
Valentine’s Day: A bit of history
Valentine’s day has very ancient origins. In ancient Rome, February was the period before the spring, period of rebirth. In this month from 13 to 15 February in Rome, the Lupercalia, established by Romulus and Remus, were celebrated. During these celebrations rituals and sacrifices were made for the fertility that spring would bring with them.
Later on, in 496 AD, Pope Gelasius turned these rites into the Valentine’s Day, in honour of Valentino, bishop of Terni who dedicated his life to spreading the values of feelings and love.
It is believed, in fact, that on Valentine’s Day, he was executed for having celebrated the marriage between the Christian Serapia and the pagan legionary Sapino.
Moreover, according to the legend, the marriage was celebrated in a hurry because the young woman was very ill and ended with the death of the spouses and the martyrdom of Bishop Valentino.
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Valentine’s Day in the world
Italy, Spain, France, Germany
Here love is celebrated with chocolates, love letters, red roses, dinners and romantic walks.
In addition to the chocolates, on Valentine’s Day, the “Valentine”, also known as heart-shaped cards, are also exchanged. Tradition has it that the sender is anonymous to create suspense when the message is received and to make a sweeter moment.
On Valentine’s Day, according to the Gaelic tradition, people wear the Claddagh a ring with a heart held by two hands, and it can mean being “single” or “busy” depending on how it is oriented. At the same time, people celebrate the poet Geoffrey Chaucer who lived between 1300 and 1400 and the first who invited to remember the saint of love.
Here the celebrations involve the whole family as Valentine’s day, for them, is the party of those we love. The children are very involved during the festivities. In fact, a few days before, they prepare cards and treats to give to parents, friends, teachers. At school, they also engage in performances.
The day of lovers is celebrated on June 12 in honour of Sant Antonio, protector of lovers, and is called “Dia dos Enamorado”.
In recent times, South Korea has become very “westernised”, and among the customs, there is the celebration of lovers which people have however associated with White Day, also used in Japan. White Day is, in fact, a tradition for which girls and boys give the other chocolate or flowers on February 14th. If the girl or the boy is interested, they return the gift a month later, on March 14th.
On the other hand, on April 14th there is the Black Day in which all the unpaired boys and girls meet at a dinner where they eat jajangmyeon noodles, which are black because they are topped with very dark beans. And they talk to each other about “sentimental bad luck” that persecute them.
Valentine’s Day is linked to the chocolate festival during which girls usually buy the Giri Choco (chocolate of obligation), and the Honmei Choco (true chocolate love). The first is given to male colleagues to express friendship or gratitude. The second is for to engaged couples, husbands or loved ones. Some women make the Honmei Choco by themselves to show their love for themselves. The boy will have to pay homage with a gift only to the person who has mutual feelings, a month later, on March 14, during the white day.
Also here on Valentine’s Day flowers, dinners and chocolates are the preferred gifts for the significant ones. February 14, however, is also the chosen day to renew the marriage. Therefore, many renewals of the wedding vows happen, and these are also celebrated in public places such as shopping centres or theatres.
There is a similar festival, the festival of the Qixi, or feast of the seventh night, which falls on the seventh day of the seventh lunar month. This festival originates from a romantic legend: The story of Zhinü and Niulang, the daughter of a deity and a pastor who lived 2600 years ago.
Like Romeo and Juliet, the two could not love each other, and when Zhinü’s father discovered that they had secretly married on earth, he sent his daughter among the stars. Every year, however, in the days of Qixi, a flock of magpies allow the two lovers to reach and embrace, forming a bridge.
During this day, the girls prepare melons and fruit to offer them to the goddess to appease the search for a lover as faithful as hers. Also, couples go to the temple to pray for their future.
The celebration is inspired by the Roman Lupercalia. In fact, it denotes very much at the propitiation of fertility. Usually, there is the tradition of pinning a ticket on the sleeve, (sometimes in the shape of a heart) with the name of the beloved person. Traditionally, here lovers exchange gifts and flowers as well.
Here celebrating Valentine’s Day creates some problems because traditionalists see this party as an intrusion into the Indian traditions from the West. To recognise it, Valentine’s Day was inserted into a Hindu legend in which that day the god of love Kamadeva holds a bow of flowers and hits men and women to make them fall in love with each other.
All over the world, there is a singular interpretation of Valentine’s day aiming at expressing and spreading love to our significant ones. We just want to wish Happy Valentine’s Day to everyone from Mash&Co.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Letizia Grasso, Educationalist
“All grown-ups were children, but few of them remember it” This phrase is engraved on my heart. The child who marvels of small things is always with me. I firmly believe that the school should focus on the self-construction of knowledge through direct contact with the outside world and, therefore, through the experiences of life. A school open to life and from life itself learns, that therefore teaches to observe every little thing, to wonder and to ask questions. A school that forms adults who know how to reflect and put into a relationship the mind and heart.”