Ok, so it may feel like it’s a bit of a Hallmark invention, but St Valentine’s Day has a long history and is celebrated in many unique ways around the world. Here are our 5 favourite Valentine’s facts:
1. In Japan, it’s more common for women to give gifts and candy to men; Japan has been celebrating Valentine’s Day in one way or another since the 1930s but really only took off in the 1970s. The day is seen as a way for women to spoil the men in their lives, but don’t fret; men return the favour the following month, by giving white chocolates, flowers and gifts to women.
2. According to viator’s travel blog, ‘the first Valentine’s Day card originated in France when Charles, Duke of Orleans, sent love letters to his wife while imprisoned in the Tower of London in 1415.’
Leave it to the French to create romance through tragedy! Today, the City of Lights (and to many, the City of Love!), is definitely one of the most romantic places to celebrate La Saint-Valentin, where Valentine’s cards are called ‘cartes d’amites’.
3. Denmark & Norway have really made the concept of Valentine’s Day their own; ‘Valentinsdag’ is an opportunity for men to write cute, quirky love notes and poems, designed to leave the recipient guessing who sent it; the letters of the sender’s name are represented by little dots, and the woman must guess who has sent her the letter. If she gets it wrong, she owes him an Easter Egg!
4. Valentine’s Day isn’t all about romantic love; in Finland, February 14 is known as Ystävänpäivä, which translates to ‘Friendship Day’, or ‘Day of Friends’. People gift their friends with cards, chocolates and flowers (pink roses are preferred) to express their appreciation and affection.
5. Welsh ‘love spoons’, whilst not strictly reserved for Valentine’s Day, have their roots in a truly beautiful myth of love and tragedy; dating back to the 17th century, young men would gift these tokens to the girls they wished to woo. Each intricately hand-carved spoon contains symbols which are said to represent the hopes and wishes for the relationship; hearts of course represent love and affection, crosses denote faith and marriage, and knots symbolise the intertwining of lives.
Have you checked out our Valentine’s Day edit? Whether you’re keen to embrace the hottest shades of ‘notice-me-now’ red or prefer a classic Little Black Dress, we’ve got you covered for Date Night or a day with family & friends.
Annette W – Seeing Me Project Stylist