It’s the month of love once again and hearts’ day is just around the corner. So, if you’re planning something big for your significant other, you should know exactly what day is Valentine’s Day this year.
Valentine’s Day is celebrated every 14th of February across the United States as well as other places around the globe. Lovers and sometimes family and friends exchange flowers, candies, and gifts supposedly in the name of Saint Valentine. Some people cook special Valentine’s Day meals for their romantic partners along with other traditions.
But where did this custom come from and is it still significant today? Let’s take a quick look at its origins to better understand this celebration.
Who is Saint Valentine? He is the patron saint of Valentine’s Day but his story is shrouded in mystery. This special day originated as a Western Christian liturgical feast day but has been recognized as a cultural and commercial celebration even by the nonreligious.
There are at least 3 saints with the name Valentine in the Catholic faith. One legend says that Valentine was a priest who fought for the right of lovers to get married during the 3rd century in Rome when Emperor Claudius II outlawed marriage for young men. He performed weddings in secret and was later on put to death.
According to another legend, Valentine was imprisoned in Rome and he sent the first valentine greeting to a young girl he fell in love with while inside. The girl was said to be the daughter of the one who jailed him and she visited him during his confinement. Before he died, it is said that he signed his last letter, “From your Valentine” and the expression is still being used today.
Though all the stories about him seem to be murky, they all emphasize him as a sympathetic, heroic, and romantic figure most of all. Valentine became one of the most popular saints by the middle ages in England and France.
Contrary to the story of a certain Saint Valentine, Christians may have actually placed the famous feast day in the middle of February on purpose, in an attempt to Christianize Lupercalia which is a pagan celebration. Lupercalia is a fertility festival celebrated at the ides of February which falls on the 15th. It is dedicated to the Roman god Faunus who is the god of agriculture.
To celebrate Lupercalia, members of the Luperci gathered in a sacred cave. The founders of Rome Romulus and Remus who were infants were said to have been cared for by a she-wolf called Lupa inside that cave. The Luperci which was an order of Roman priests would sacrifice a goat for fertility in the cave and a dog for purification. After that, they would strip the goat’s hide and dip them in sacrificial blood then slap them gently on the women and crop fields. They believed that it made the women more fertile in the following year. All the young women would then write their names and put them in a big urn. The city’s bachelors would choose one name each who would become their pair for the year which often ended in marriage.
When Christianity rose to power, Lupercalia was outlawed because it was un-Christian and Pope Gelasius declared the 14th of February Valentine’s Day. But it was much later that the festival became definitively associated with love. During the middle ages in England and France, it was believed that February 14th was when birds began mating which added to the idea that it should be a day of romance.
As Valentine’s Day became popular in different parts of the world, friends and lovers started exchanging tokens of affections and handwritten notes. By the 1900s, written letters were replaced by printed cards because of the advancements in the printing technology. Ready-made cards became available and they became an easy way for people to express their emotions.
Is It a Holiday?
Valentine’s Day is not an official public holiday. Government offices as well as schools, commercial establishments, and other organizations remain open and are business as usual. Public transportation systems should continue on their regular schedule but restaurants are usually busier than regular days. February 14th is also a very popular date for weddings.
The heart is the most popular symbolism around Valentine’s Day. It is usually in red and pink. Images and figures of Cupid are also popular. Cupid is usually portrayed as a small figure with wings holding a bow and arrow. According to mythology, Cupid uses his arrows to strike people in the hearts to make them fall in love. This is where the expression “struck by Cupid’s arrow” came from to describe people who have fallen in love. Other symbols of hearts’ day include chocolates and flowers.
Valentine’s Day in 2018
February 14th this year falls on a Wednesday and that answers the question, what day is Valentine’s Day.
There are plenty of things you can do with your spouse or partner to celebrate hearts’ day and you don’t always have to do what everyone else does. For one thing, flowers and chocolates are surely going to be overpriced during this time and it would be incredibly hard to make reservations on nice restaurants. You could use the time to simply stay at home and watch an old romantic movie together. Getting a couple’s massage is also a great way to relax for this special day and show your partner how much you care about them.
Still, nothing beats a handwritten letter that expresses your love. The most important thing that couples need to remember about Valentine’s Day is that it should not be a one-time celebration of love. Instead, it should be a reminder that we should express our love to our significant others every single day in small but meaningful ways. As they say, every day should be Valentine’s Day. It is the little things that mean a lot so don’t forget to show small gestures of love to your loved ones all year round.