Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, which means gifts such as candy, flowers and jewelry will be exchanged throughout the world to loved ones. This holiday has evolved throughout the years and has similarities and differences in various cultures.
In the United States and other countries that celebrate the holiday, such as France and Germany, it takes place on Feb. 14. Specifically, in the United States, the history of the holiday revolves around St. Valentine who Valentine’s Day was named after.
There are several different perspectives and stories when it comes to St. Valentine in the Catholic Church.
According to History.com, “The Catholic Church recognizes at least three different saints named Valentine or Valentinus, all of whom were martyred. One legend contends that Valentine was a priest who served during the third century in Rome.”
With at least three different saints, there are several opposing viewpoints to how Valentine’s Day came to be the way it is. The debate of the origin of the holiday still hasn’t come to one conclusive explanation.
“While some believe that Valentine’s Day is celebrated in the middle of February to commemorate the anniversary of Valentine’s death or burial–which probably occurred around A.D. 270–others claim that the Christian church may have decided to place St. Valentine’s feast day in the middle of February in an effort to “Christianize” the pagan celebration of Lupercalia,” according to History.com.
The way that modern day Valentine’s Day is celebrated has greatly changed throughout the last few decades. It has begun to gain popularity, and the traditions that follow are also evolving.
“Valentine’s Day hasn’t always been a celebrated holiday in Germany. That being said, with American influence, it has gained some popularity in the last few decades,” German teacher Kelly Jessup said.
Similar to Germany, France has started to follow the trends that follow the holiday. With increased awareness, the holiday has become more prevalent throughout the globe.
“In France, we celebrate Valentine’s Day more and more with each and every passing year. It’s an American holiday that has exported in many countries around the world. Gift giving is similar [in France]. It’s all over commercials on T.V. and in stores. It’s a very commercial holiday in both the United States and France,” French teacher Sarah Haynes said.
There are many commonalities between the celebration of Valentine’s Day in France and Germany. However, even with the growing popularity, different countries have a contrasting way of observing the holiday.
“Celebration in Germany is on an individual basis. Some celebrate, and some don’t. Unlike in America, Valentine’s Day in Germany is for adults only who choose to exchange cards, flowers and/or candies. Elementary age children in Germany do not make a Valentine box for a Valentine’s Day party at school to exchange cards and candies,” Jessup said.