Valentine’s Day around the World

Tomorrow is Valentines Day.  Many lovers around the world will be scurrying to pick up last-minute chocolates, flowers and cute stuffed animals to show there love and affection they feel for one another.  Many countries around the world celebrate this day in their own way.

The traditional Valentine’s Day card industry began in my home state of Massachusetts.  A woman by the name of Esther Howland of  Worcester, MA decided to replicate the fancy hand written cards she had received from Britain.  The holiday just took off from here.   Today, Valentine’s Day cards represent the second biggest card-sending holiday of the year.

A similar situation occured when the Conversational fruit flavored Hearts were invented. They were originally made in Glasgow, UK by the brother of the Necco Company (based in the Boston Area of Massachusetts) and called Sweethearts in the 1860’s.  The Sweethearts were originally used for weddings since the heart candies inscriptions traditionally were “Marry Me” themed messages.  The UK-based Swizzels began producing their Love Hearts in 1933 and the US-based Necco began producing their Sweethearts line earlier in 1902.

Many other countries around the world have adopted this holiday even though todays version has a much different from its original version.  Saint Valentine was a Roman priest who was found guilty of marrying Christians and later executed for the crime.  The day of his death was February 14th and feast is held on this day to commemorate his death.  It was later when Chaucer associated this saint with romantic love.

Día del Amor y la Amistad

In Mexico, Ecuador, El Salvador and Costa Rica call the holiday Dia del Amor y la Amistad or day of love and friendship. Finland and Estonia do the same.  The celebrations are pretty much similar to ones in the US but they incorporate friends in as well.  The flowers are a must along with lingerie.

White Day

In Japan and South Korea February 14th is a day where women traditionally give men chocolates.  The men later reciprocate the offer on March 14th by giving a non-chocolate give to women.  This holiday is known as White Day.  On April 14th in South Korea its traditional for those who didn’t receive anything on either days to go to a Chinese restaurant and eat themselves silly with a huge meal of black noodles.  This is known as Black Day there since they are mourning that they are single status.

Valentine’s Day banned?

Valentine’s Day has caused some outrage in countries where many see it as blasphemous.   The day sparks skirmishes between some Hindu extremists and non-hindu indians.  They usually threaten to attack Indian couples celebrating the holiday since they see it as encouraging obscene sexual behaviors.  These are the same people who strongly oppose Bollywood films.

Saudi Arabia has banned the holiday and any selling of flowers, chocolates and  even wrapping paper on February 14th just because it is a Christian holiday.  Pakistan also bans the holiday saying that it is a “shameful day” and an insult to Islam.

Valentine’s Day has been and will always be a Hallmark holiday.  For some, they need to be reminded to celebrate those they love and show them by showering them with gifts of chocolate, flowers, cards and jewelry. What’s so bad about that?  Happy V-Day!

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