Valentine’s Day

Amelia Strazdins

The 14th of February is a day filled with red. Red roses, red hearts and red sweets. All these symbolic items procured in the name of love and of course Valentine’s Day. Saint Valentine’s Day is internationally recognised as the day of hearts. Across the world people spend their day making romantic proclamations and emptying flower shops. Whilst the origins of the day vary, the tradition links strongly to Ancient Rome. Many stories surround why the day became so symbolic including the belief that the patron Saint Valentine was a priest who continued to perform marriages for soldiers despite the then Emperor outlawing it. Others imply that the Saint helped Christians escape harsh Roman prisons. Regardless of the origins, the day quickly became firmly implanted within many countries and cultures. In keeping with the Roman ways, roses are another nod to ancient Roman tradition and culture. The rose was the symbol of the goddess of love, Venus in Rome and Aphrodite in Greece, and thus has aptly become perhaps the largest part of Valentine’s day. Despite the universal flower, many countries have a variety of traditions. Take Argentina for example, who do not celebrate Valentine’s Day in February but ‘Week of Sweetness’ in July. The week originated as apart of an advertising campaign, but quickly gained popularity and thus has continued. France is also another country believed to have been apart in one of the many possible origins for the day, with the belief that the first ever Valentine’s day occurred in the Parisian land. Of course, it is no surprise that Paris, the city of love, fully embraces the day embodying love, lights and life. Here in Australia, chocolates and flowers tend to remain the gift of choice whilst in Ghana Valentine’s Day is celebrated as National Chocolate Day which fits in remarkably well with the theme of the date. Whilst many gift floral arrangements, handcrafted spoons are the gift of choice in Wales. The tradition was thought to have originated in 16th century, with the acceptance of the spoon indicating romantic interest and the beginning of a relationship. In reflecting on these traditions, it becomes clear that this day supports many more ideals than just sparkly jewellery, expensive gifts and fancy dinners. In light of warmer weather, outdoor dinners and picnics remain an integral part of the Aussie Valentine’s Day. While many perceive the day as a commercial cash grab, the origins of the day highlight the importance it has held throughout history. Thus, in 2021 the day is to yet again be full of couples, cake and no doubt many celebrations.

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