USA: Expressions of love on Valentine’s Day
When is it? February 14.
Where? USA (and now it’s celebrated in many other countries around the world).
Its meaning and history. It began as a liturgical celebration of an early Christian saint called Valentinus. There are some different legends about St. Valentine. One of them, The Golden Legend, states that a cruel Roman Emperor Claudius II forbade men to marry the women they loved, because then they could fight better. Valentine was a field doctor and a priest of Rome who crowned couples who met in secret. When the authorities found out about this, Valentine was thrown into prison and executed. Before his execution on February 14 he fell in love with Julia, the beautiful daughter of his jailer Asterius, and wrote her a love-letter, the first "Valentine" card, signing as "Your Valentine". Another legend tells that that Saint Valentine was persecuted as a Christian and interrogated by Roman Emperor Claudius II in person.
Anyway, this holiday lost its religious meaning over time, and acquired its secular character. Now it’s celebrated as a day of romantic love.
How it is celebrated. In the USA, the first Valentine's Day was celebrated in 1777. Since the 19th century there has been a ritual among lovers to give each other handwritten Valentine’s Day cards. Now it’s a very popular holiday, especially among young people.
On Valentine's Day people send cards and presents to their partners. Men and women, boys and girls exchange cards which say "I love you." Men are often expected to give flowers, chocolates, lingerie, or jewelry to their girlfriends or wives. Women might be expected to buy a gift and cook a romantic candlelight dinner.
Kids have a lot of fun making their own cards – cutting out heart shapes in red paper and decorating them. Some schools have parties where they exchange them with classmates (if you are lucky, you will get one from a “secret admirer” or a boy or girl that you really like!). Also, children will give each other heart-shaped candies.
“All shops have huge displays selling cards, chocolates, and gifts, and generally promoting the holiday”, Ellyse Brause, a marketing manager from California, says. “However, it has become very commercialized and seems to be driven by card companies and flower shops! The prices for red roses can be double or triple around this time of year”.
Family traditions. Ellyse Brause with her husband Eric has been living in Austria for 4 years. She says: “When I lived in the US, I usually sent cards to my parents & grandmother. My husband and I often planned a dinner out at a nice restaurant. Since we live in Austria, we usually just celebrate at home with a romantic dinner, a good bottle of wine and maybe a chocolate fondue for desert. Eric usually brings me flowers too, which is nice in the middle of winter! It’s a nice to have a reason to remind the people around you that you love them!”.
Kelvin Wheeler, an American, came to Klagenfurt from New York City. He is 46 years old, works as a lawyer and has been living in Klagenfurt since 2011. “I live here with my wife and two young children. My wife was born in Klagenfurt. We met in New York City while she was working there”, Kelvin tells. “We are used to celebrate Valentine’s day every year. I think this is an important holiday because it is a day when you show your partner that you love him or her. Many women look forward to Valentine's Day and appreciate the romantic gestures from their partners. It’s a fun holiday; you are not expected to spend a lot of money. The main thing is being sincere and showing appreciation to the one that you love!” On Valentine’s day Kelvin will buy a card and flowers for his wife and proposes that everybody do something special for the Valentine in their life.
Kelvin Wheeler with his wife and children.
Ellyse Brause with her husband Eric.
According to the Association of Greeting Cards in the USA, Valentine cards are the most popular holiday cards after Christmas cards.
You can see the top 10 homemade Valentines cards here: livingalmostnaturally.com/top-10-homemade-valentines-cards