Valentines day

Nowadays February is known as the month of love and friendship and on the 14th we give or receive gifts from friends and loved ones.

Valentine’s Day actually dates back to Ancient Rome, to a celebration in honor of fertility known as Lupercalia. During this celebration women were whipped in a ritual that was thought to bring them fertility. In the year 496 this ‘celebration’ was prohibited by Pope Gelasius I who established 14th February 14th as Saint Valentine’s Day, and dedicated it to love.

The day was also dedicated to Valentin, a priest who would marry young people in secret after it was forbidden by Emperor Claudius, who – upon finding this out – had him killed on the 14th February.

18 years later, the 6th King of France created the Court of Love – where on the first Sunday in February people would compete to win a partner.

In 1382 Valentine’s Day is mentioned for the first time as a celebration for lovers, in the poem ‘The Parliament of Fowls’ by Geoffrey Chaucer:

‘’(…) For al be that I knowe nat love in dede,

Ne wot how that he quyteth folk hir hyre,

Yet happeth me ful ofte in bokes rede

Of his miracles, and his cruel yre (…)’’

From the 15th Century onwards, Valentine’s Day became popular and spread across Europe, and the custom began of writing cards and poems (known as ‘valentines’) to lovers. In the 19th Century this date began to be commercialised, with Valentine’s Day cards being sold, along with phrases, ornaments, gifts and any other object that could be used to show love.

Cupid (the God of Romantic Love) was adopted as a symbol of the Day of Love. From this moment on, Valentine’s Day spread to the rest of the world, where each country has adopted a specific name and date on which to celebrate it.

In Guatemala we call it ‘El Día del Cariño’.

Written by: Jullisa Carrillo
Translated by: Jessica Hoult


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