Valentine’s Day is today, February 14, and we’ve rounded up some fast facts about the day that may surprise you. Here are 5 things to know about the holiday!
Sure, tons of people think Valentine’s Day is one of the most annoying days of the year, but it wasn’t always a super-commercialized holiday. Here’s everything you need to know about how the day started, how it’s celebrated around the world and more!
1. The annual day is also called Saint Valentine’s Day or the Feast of Saint Valentine. It started as a Western Christian feast day honoring a saint named Valentinus (Saint Valentine.) Today, February 14 is recognized as a cultural, religious, and commercial celebration of romance and romantic love in many countries, though it’s not a public holiday. Saint Valentine is the patron saint of “affianced couples, against fainting, beekeepers, happy marriages, love, plague, and epilepsy.” You can learn more about the legend of Saint Valentine here.
2. Chaucer may have made it all up. The day started to be associated with romance in the 14th century, when Geoffrey Chaucer’s poetry about “valentines” linked Valentinus and romantic love. Meanwhile, the tradition of “courtly love” started to come about. Significant others began to give each other flowers, sweets and greeting cards called “valentines” in 18th-century England to express their feelings. These days, valentines are not usually handwritten anymore, thanks to Hallmark! All this is to say: it could have just been a feast day for certain churches, but Chaucer kind of screwed us all.
3. There are some unique traditions associated with the day. In America, we send flowers and binge on chocolate, but in Italy, a metal key called the Saint Valentine’s key is sometimes handed out because it’s believed to offer a cure for epilepsy (“Saint Valentine’s Malady”)! In Japan, it’s customary for only women to give chocolates to men, and in Ireland, people can make a Christian pilgrimage to the Shrine of St. Valentine in Whitefriar Street Carmelite Church in Dublin.
4. White Day is celebrated in some countries on March 14 as an “answer” to V-Day. In Japan, South Korea, Vietnam, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and China, it’s typical for women to give men chocolate gifts, and on White Day, the opposite happens. It gives men the chance to return the favor by giving gifts to women — and it’s expected that they’ll spend 2-3 times the money!
5. If you hate Valentine’s Day, you have other options! Feel free to celebrate Singles Awareness Day (SAD), Galentine’s Day and Anna Howard Shaw Day.
HollywoodLifers, are you celebrating Valentine’s Day?