Here we are: today is Valentine's Day, the holiday that celebrates love and comes around like clockwork on 14 February each year. Romantic dinners, gifts, flowers and sweet treats reign supreme on this occasion, which has age-old origins going all the way back to ancient Roman times. But while we know exactly how it is celebrated in Italy, what do lovers around the world do to mark the day?
In Ireland, the origins of the holiday are very closely linked to Gaelic culture, which recommends wearing a Claddagh ring for the occasion. This ring features a heart held by two hands and can mean "single" or "committed" depending on which way it is worn. The inventor of the holiday is also honoured: the poet Geoffrey Chaucer, who encouraged people to celebrate the saint of love back in the fourteenth century. Here too, couples have romantic dinners and give one another gifts. Above all, though, it is very common to secretly exchange cards with loving messages as a tribute to couples who defied danger to get married despite the threat of persecution.
In China, the Qixi Festival (Seventh Night Festival) is celebrated on the seventh day of the seventh lunar month. A very romantic story lies at the heart of the myth: the legend of Zhinü and Niulang. The story is similar to the tale of Romeo and Juliet: the couple's love was not permitted, and when Zhinü's father discovered that they had secretly married on Earth, he sent her to live among the stars. But every year, a flock of magpies appears between Earth and the Milky Way to form a bridge that allows them to reunite and embrace on the day of the Qixi Festival. Very romantic, don't you think?
In many countries, Valentine's Day coincides with Carnival, and in Brazil, the festival comes later on 12 June, when the country celebrates "El Dia dos Namorados" in honour of Saint Anthony, the protector of marriages. The Brazilian traditions are once again similar to ours: couples exchange chocolates, love notes and flowers and have romantic dinners. In true Brazilian style, there are also big street parties with music and dancing.
Finland and Estonia buck the trend compared to the rest of the world. For them, 14 February is Friendship Day and is celebrated in the company of friends rather than with partners and romantic dinners.
Finally, we want to tell you about Valentine's Day in the United States, where the celebrations involve the whole family. In fact, Valentine's Day there is a celebration of "loved ones" rather than just couples. Children are also a big part of the occasion, preparing cards and sweet treats that they give to parents, teachers and classmates. How about involving your children, perhaps by preparing a nice romantic dinner to share with your whole family? After all, this is another way of celebrating love.