HOW DID VALENTINE’S DAY GET ITS NAME?
By Dr. Ava Cadell
Valentine’s Day hasn’t always been just about flowers and chocolate – it has a long and storied history. Every February in ancient Rome, the Romans held a fertility feast to honor all the young men. They placed adolescent women’s names in a box and drew the names at random, assigning each young man a female companion for their mutual pleasure for the duration of a year, after which another lottery was staged.
When the Roman Catholics came to power, they were determined to put an end to this 800 year-old practice. The church found a “lovers” saint to replace the lottery whose name was Valentine, a Bishop who had been martyred some 200 years earlier when he enraged emperor Claudius II by secretly performing marriage ceremonies. It seems that Claudius had outlawed marriage because he thought it made men poor soldiers, not wanting to leave their wives for battle.
Unfortunately poor Bishop Valentine was clubbed to death and decapitated, which is not very romantic, but nevertheless, his name lives on and will always be synonymous with love and romance.
Today, Valentine’s Day is celebrated around the globe, and here are a few cultural rituals around the globe:
• In Denmark, people send pressed white flowers called snowdrops to their friends.
• In Italy they have a festival with wine and food, then sex.
• In Brazil they celebrate their own definition of Valentine’s Day on June 12, which is St. Anthony’s Day as he was the patron saint of loving companions and good marriages.
• In Japan, women give candy to men on Valentine’s Day while men return the favor one month later on White Day.
• In Korea, bachelors get their own holiday, called Black Day and the occasion calls for single men who did not receive anything on the 14th to gather a month later and eat noodles covered in black sauce.
• In China, they celebrate Valentine’s Day twice a year; on Feb 14th and on the seventh day of the seventh month of the Chinese lunar calendar.
• In the USA, UK, Canada, Australia, Mexico and France, Valentine’s Day is one of the nations largest card, flowers and chocolate giving occasions.