There really is no escaping, the shops will be flooded with typical Valentine’s Day fare, from heart shaped chocolates, heart adorned greeting cards, teddy’s holding hearts! In England in years gone by our practices to celebrate love were very different.
On the eve on Valentine’s Day, women used to place five bay leaves on their pillows—one at each corner and one in the center—to bring dreams of their future husbands. Alternatively, women wet bay leaves with rose water and placed them across their pillows.
In Norfolk, Jack Valentine acts as a Santa of sorts for Valentine’s Day. Children anxiously wait to hear Jack Valentine knock at their doors, and although they don’t catch a glimpse of Old Father Valentine, children enjoy the candies and small gifts left on their porches.
Interestingly, Valentine’s Day traditions around the world differ greatly!
Our Cherry Picked Top 5 Traditions
Originally, Italians celebrated Valentine’s Day as the Spring Festival. The young and amorous gathered outside in gardens and tree arbors to enjoy poetry readings and music before taking a stroll with their beloved.
Another Italian Valentine’s Day tradition was for young, unmarried girls to wake up before dawn to spot their future husbands. The belief was that the first man a woman saw on Valentine’s Day was the man she would marry within a year. Or, he’d at least strongly resemble the man she would marry.
Today, Italians celebrate Valentine’s Day with gift exchanges between lovers and romantic dinners. One of the most popular Valentine’s Day gifts in Italy are baci perugina, which are small, chocolate-covered hazelnuts wrapped with a romantic quote printed in four languages.
There is no-where in the world that depicts love & romance better than France. They do not disappoint when it comes to Valentine’s Day and celebrate it as a day for lovers!
It’s been said that the first Valentine’s Day card originated in France when Charles, Duke of Orleans, sent love letters to his life while imprisoned in the Tower of London in 1415. Today, Valentine’s Day cards remain a popular tradition in France.
Another traditional Valentine’s Day event in France was called loterie d’amour, or “drawing for love.” Men and women would fill houses that faced one another, and then take turns calling out to one another and pairing off. Men who weren’t satisfied with their match could simply leave a woman for another, and the women left unmatched gathered afterward for a bonfire.
During the bonfire, women burned pictures of the men who wronged them and hurled swears and insults at the opposite sex. The event became so uncontrollable that the French government eventually banned the tradition all together!
With Carnival held sometime in February or March each year, Brazilians skip the February 14th celebration and instead celebrate Dia dos Namorados, or “Lovers’ Day,” on June 12th. In addition to exchanges of chocolates, flowers and cards, music festivals and performances are held throughout the country. Gift giving isn’t limited to couples, either. In Brazil, they celebrate this day of love by exchanging gifts and sharing dinner with friends and relatives, too.
The following day is Saint Anthony’s Day, which honors the patron saint of marriage. On this day, single women perform rituals called simpatias in hopes that St. Anthony will bring them a husband.
While Valentine’s Day celebrations in the Philippines are similar to celebrations in Western countries, one tradition has swept the country and led to thousands of couples sharing a wedding day on February 14th.
Mass wedding ceremonies have gained popularity in the Philippines in recent years, leading hundreds of couples to gather at malls or other public areas around the country to get married or renew their vows en masse. In 2012, more than 2,000 Filipino couples were married or renewed their vows in mass wedding ceremonies throughout the country.
Like many parts of the world, South Africa celebrates Valentine’s Day with festivals, flowers and other tokens of love. It’s also customary for women in South Africa to wear their hearts on their sleeves on February 14th. Women pin the names of their love interest on their shirtsleeves, an ancient Roman tradition known as Lupercalia. In some cases, this is how South African men learn of their secret admirers.
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