Love is in the air! Valentine’s Day is quickly approaching and with it, the onslaught of chocolates, red hearts, cuddly stuffed animals, cinnamon candies and a boom in spending at greeting card stores. It’s been noted that Valentine’s Day brings in approximately $17 billion in spending in the United States.
But before Hallmark came along, people had been celebrating Valentine’s Day in the form of love festivals and events, all over the world for thousands of years This week, TripAtlas.com is taking you all over the world and to look at different Valentine’s Day celebrations and rituals in different countries and where Valentine’s Day originated.
Last-minute Valentine's Day getaways, ideas and travel deals on TripAtlas.com:
- Drool at these 10 Romantic Luxury Getaways this Valentine's Day
- For single and couples, New York City is offering deals at the Ritz Carlton & the Mandarin Oriental and for those looking to tie the knot in NYC this Valentine's Day long weekend
- Escape to San Diego this Valentine's Day with these perfectly priced packages
- Go for a Romantic Elizabethean Valentine's Weekend at the Combe House in Devon in the United Kingdom
- Feeling adventurous? Seal the Deal in Las Vegas this Valentine's Day
- Every day is Valentine's at The Reefs in Bermuda, offering 6-day/5-night packages all February
- That's amore! Read about the 10 Most Romantic Things to Do in Venice, Italy
Read on to find out how Valentine's Day is celebrated in the rest of the world!
What's behind Valentine's Day?
Ancient Greco-Roman festivals would take place in January or February each year to celebrate the marriage of Zeus and Hera. Another Roman festival called Lupercalia celebrated fertility, but was later banned by the Pope in the late 400's AD.
Today's modern Valentine's Day comes from the story of Saint Valentine, a martyred priest who defied the Roman Emperor. The Emperor had ordered that young men serving in the army should remain single but Valentine would perform secret marriage ceremonies "in the name of love." When he was discovered, he was thrown in jail to be executed. Before his execution, he wrote a letter to his jailer's daughter whom he addressed as his beloved, which read: "from your Valentine."
Later in 1382, a work of Chaucer offers the first instance of Valentine's Day in association with romantic love. Later in the 1600's, Shakespeare would refer to Valentine's Day in Hamlet. And that's how we have today's Valentine's Day!
Celebrating Valentine's Day All Over the World
Pepero Day in Korea. In Korea, their version of Valentine's Day takes place in November 11th when boxes of thin flavour-coated Pepero cookie sticks are given away. Called "Pepero Day," this day celebrates romantic love just like Valentine's. Boxes of these cookie sticks are bought and given to loved ones, significant others, classmates, coworkers, and etc.
Valentine's Day in Japan. Valentine's Day has a different spin in Japan. On February 14th, women are obligated to give chocolates to all male co-workers. This exchange is called giri-choko (obligation chocolate). Chocolates can also be given to loved ones and this type of exchange is called honmei-choko. When giving chocolates to friends on this day, the exchange is called tomo-choko (friend chocolate).
White Day in Japan. White Day takes place on March 14th and the opposite of Valentine's Day occurs. Roles are switched and men are then obligated to return the favour of the women who gave them chocolate on Valentine's Day. Traditionally, men are to give women white chocolate or marshmallows, rather than milk or dark chocolate. However, lingerie and jewellery have become common gifts on this day, as well.
Valentine's Day in Mexico. In Mexico, the beginning of red hearts, cupids and gift-giving starts right after Christmas is over! From flowers to red-coloured items, sweets and heart-shaped objects, stores are stocked when the New Year begins. The exchange of such gifts is also seen as a sign of prosperity for the new year.
Valentine's Day in the Middle East. Although Valentine's Day is seen somewhat negatively as overly consumerist in the Middle East, the holiday is slowly spreading. How? Through media, television and movies which portray love and the holiday, people in these countries have begun to celebrate Valentine's with chocolates, stuffed animals, heart shaped items and the like.
From TripAtlas.com: Have a happy Valentine's Day!
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Located: Toronto Canada