The concept of Valentine’s Day has always seemed to stir up a little bit of controversy. Those who are single may be annoyed by all the love hoopla around them, while those in relationships may be stressing about how to make V-day great for their partners. More enlightened individuals may criticize the hyper commercialized nature of a mass produced holiday, while more crass may say it’s all fake anyway, so who cares. It seems few and far between, encountering those who embrace the intention behind the holiday and celebrate it in an authentic fashion. Believe it or not, the celebration of Saint Valentine was probably not intended to be all around gift giving, greeting card and navigating the murky waters of modern romance. I thought I’d do a bit of research and teach all you beautiful readers out there a little something you may not have known about Valentine’s Day.
There was a Saint Valentine
Before Valentine’s Day became the scourge of ever man with a poor memory and a vengeful wife, St. Valentine’s Day cemented its place in human history as the celebration of one of the early Christian saints, Valentinus. Multiple stories swirl around multiple men with that name, but one of the most popular was about of Saint Valentine of Rome. Roman rumour has it that he was imprisoned for performing weddings for soldiers, as it was illegal for them to marry at the time. Supposedly he earned favor with his jailer by healing his daughter. Upon his release, Valentine wrote his former patient a note that he signed with affection. And so, the first “valentine”, a loving note sent on the day of the same name, was born. If you want to feel closer to Saint Valentine, you can join thousands of tourists in Chelmno, Poland who flock to the city to visit small pieces of the skull of the patron saint of love himself. Thanks Margaret, and head over here to learn more!
There is no Valentine’s Day in Brazil
According to Wikipedia, Brazil’s vacation destination popularity heightens in February, especially for single travelers. Why, do you ask? There is no Valentine’s Day in Brazil, because the traditional timing of the holiday falls too close to the celebration of Carnival. Carnival is kind of like the holiday binge before the New Year, but for Catholics before Lent, and anyone else who wants to go to Brazil to party for a week. Masquerades, parades and dancing in the streets, all of these things and more are what make Brazil a great anti-Valentine’s day hotspot. See you next year?
You don’t just have to give a Valentine’s Day card
Not looking to send out saccharine hallmark greetings? You may be one of the only ones, since people send around 190 million Valentine’s Day cards each year (and that doesn’t even include the cards kids are forced to give each other at school. But if you didn’t want to be one of the masses, try sending a Vinegar Valentine. A lighthearted tradition started in the U.S. in 1840s Vinegar Valentine’s are actually insult cards decorated with caricatures and rude poems. Created for the spinster, floozy, drunk or scholar in your life, these cards used to create quite a stir, sometimes even leading to fist fights. The most hilarious part was that it was the receiver, not the sender, who would pay for the postage. Imagine getting a card calling you a slut and having to pay for the privilege? No wonder people threw punches. Thanks to Kerry for sharing and you can learn more about it here.
Sometimes it’s someone’s birthday, and that’s just weird
Maybe it’s just me, but I am super turned off by Valentine’s Day because it’s my dad’s birthday. I don’t know about you, but putting on sexy lingerie and eating chocolate with some dude while I know my (diabetic) father is out there getting a day older is just WEIRD. I know I’m not the only one with a parent or close relative who shares that birthday so hopefully I’m not the only one who feels that day. Also, my birthday is November 14th. I did the math. Ew.
It’s not just for couples anymore
There are many places in the world that view the Valentine’s Day concept as a celebration of all types of loves, not just romantic. In some countries in Central and South America, V-day is referred to not only as “el día de los enamorados” (day of lovers) but as “Día del Amor y la Amistad” (Day of Love and Friendship). In Costa Rica, Columbia and some other countries, people will perform “acts of appreciation” for their friends. In Finland and Estonia, they take it a step further, calling it ystävänpäivä in Finnish, and sõbrapäev in Estonian, which actually means “Friend’s Day”. And in a style that I much prefer, people celebrate and remember friends and not just significant others. As the name indicates, this day is more about remembering friends, not significant others.
So this Valentine’s Day, which just happens to be tomorrow, open your minds and your hearts past the usual way of thinking. Do something nice for your significant other if you have one, but also for your friends, family and hell maybe even a stranger or two. No one will ever be disappointed by a nice gesture, and you’ll feel all the better for too. Happy Valentine’s Day!