The Curious Case of Valentine’s Day, Cracked Open

We don’t mean to offend anyone when we call Valentine’s Day wretched–er, we mean, cliched– or make fun of it but it’s time we look past the flowers and frills and took this matter seriously. Very seriously. How did it all start in the first place?

There are so many legends and myths surrounding the origin of this day that it’s hard to find a concrete source. However, the most famous and believed version of the legend states that Valentine’s Day has been named after Saint Valentine of Rome, who used to perform weddings for soldiers who were forbidden to marry in the Roman Empire. Before being executed, he wrote a letter to the daughter of his jailor, and signed it as, “Your Valentine”. It was during the High Middle Ages, when writers were writing love ballads and tragic love stories, that this day finally became a symbol of expressing one’s love for their lover and by sending out cards or as they are called, “valentines”. The fact that legends like William Shakespeare, Chaucer and Edmund Spenser, all wrote strongly about love and many a times used Valentine as a symbol of love has made this word synonymous with romance forever.

Truly, Madly, Materialistically


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Celebrating Valentine’s Day without cards, letters, flowers, chocolates and gifts is impossible to think of, right? Well, the custom of sending all this to your beloved started first in United Kingdom, where this day is still made synonymous with many regional customs (see ‘Jack Valentine’). In the 19th century, England was flooded with love! Paper Valentine’s, decorated with lace and ribbons were all around. In USA, 19th century saw embossed paper lace and floral decorations flood the market around the time of Valentine’s Day.



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Although Valentine’s Day is synonymous with love all around the globe, every region has its own ways of celebrating this day.


Latin America’s Love Affair

Latin America Valentines Day


El día de los enamorados“- Day Of Lovers or “Día del Amor y la Amistad“- Day Of Love And Friendship (that’s the spirit!), this is what Valentine’s Day is celebrated as in many Latin American countries. Another fun part of this day is the tradition of “Amigo Secreto” or Secret Friend in which each person is assigned an anonymous recipient who is to be given a secret gift. Secret Santa but better? Yes, please!

You plus me equals USA

Valentines Celebration USA

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Well well, Valentine’s Day in USA. What is there to say more than the fact that USA sees the highest number of Valentine’s Day cards and gifts sold anywhere in the world. Gifts, chocolates, flowers, declarations of love–subtle or not, USA sees it all on Valentine’s Day. Love-themed parties, decorations all around, the whole country turns into a huge beating heart!



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China’s Seventh Heaven

QiXi China

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The Chinese Valentine’s Day is also known as QiXi Festival or ‘The Night Of Sevens’ (Qi Xi or pinyin). It is celebrated on the 7th day of the 7th month of the Chinese Lunar Calendar. The legend behind this day states that the Cowherd Star and the Weaver Maid Star are otherwise separated by the Milky Way, but meet on this very day, by crossing the Milky Way. This stands as a symbol of the undying power of love, which conquers all!



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Love Conquers All In INDIA

Saraswati Puja

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Ancient India saw the adoration of Kamadeva, the God of love, who is represented through the carvings of Khajuraho. In West Bengal, Saraswati Puja, where Goddess Saraswati, goddess of intelligence is worshipped, is seen as the Bengali version of Valentine’s Day. The western idea of Valentine’s Day starting pouring in in the late 1990s. Today, in India too, Valentine’s Day is a symbol of everlasting love and celebrated with fervour especially by the youth.


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IRAN’s Take on Love

Iran VDay

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In Iran, although, the idea of Valentine’s Day is not favored and is forbidden, yet, there are festivals celebrating love. The Sepandarmazgan, or Esfandegan, is a festival where people express love towards their mothers and wives, and it is also a celebration of earth in ancient Persian culture. Who says love can’t be platonic? Certainly not Iranians!


ISRAEL’s Lovely Win(e) 

Israel VDay

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In Israel, Tu B’Av, a Jewish tradition, is looked upon as the equivalent of Valentine’s Day. It is celebrated on the 15th day of the month of Av (usually in late August). Traditionally, girls wear white outfits and dance in vineyards, where their lovers wait for them (such an idyllic setting, we’re pleased!). Today, Tu B’Av is celebrated with the modern customs of Valentine’s Day and is said be an auspicious day for proposing to your beloved.


Israel VDay

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Love And More In JAPAN

Japan has some really interesting traditions for Valentine’s Day. Traditionally, the custom is for women to give chocolates to male co-workers. It’s actually an obligation for them to do so. Hence the term ‘giri-choko‘ (giri- obligation and choko- chocolate). While the not-so-friendly and/or not-so-nice co-worker is given ‘cho-giri‘ or cheap chocolate, the loved ones are given ‘honmei choko‘ or true feeling chocolate. Girls also give each other ‘tomo choko‘, where ‘tomo‘ means friend.


Japan VDay

Image Courtesy: OfJapan


Now here’s our favorite part of Japanese Valentine’s Day customs. After being showered with gifts initially, Men, you see, are expected to give back gifts which are twice or thrice more valuable than the gifts they have received or otherwise, it is seen as a wedge in the relationship! Again, the norms of giving gifts, chocolates, jewelry, etc. are also a part of Valentine’s Day celebrations in Japan.



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Lebanon Vday

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We love the unique Valentine’s Day celebrations in Lebanon! Saint Valentine is the patron saint of Lebanon and therefore, this day holds a very special place in the region. Valentine’s cupcakes (cupcakes, enough said) and roses are the most popular here, as they are treated as symbols of sacrifice and passion.

After that around the world trip, we’ve sure you must have noticed that Valentine’s Day is not just a celebration of love between lovers, it is a celebration of love itself! Love exists in families, in friendships, in your idols and most importantly, love for your own self. So you see, rather than lamenting about the fact that you’re single or crying your eyes out over a messy break-up, this Valentine’s Day, show your family, friends & companions, the love you hold for them. Show yourself the love you have for yourself. And don’t wait for one specific day of the year to do this. As Gabrielle Aplin sang so beautifully, “The power of love, a force from above.”



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