Having felt like dying from anxiety about asking your crush out for Valentine’s, you probably never asked yourself why this particular day was causing you so much stress? Why the 14th, why Valentine’s and why flowers and all this stuff?
The origins are shrouded in mystery but go back to the late 3rd century when a number of Valentines endured martyrdom by the Romans for their Christian faith. Pope Gelasius I introduced the feast of St. Valentine on February 14th, presumably to replace the pagan Lupercalia, an orgiastic Roman fertility festival.
Thus purged from its antique background, St. Valentine has been remembered ever since at the end of the second week of February. Having supposedly wed lovers and given them flowers from his garden, Valentine’s day became a day of high courtship in the Middle Ages and was popularized by the great English poet Geoffrey Chaucer in his “parliament of the birds”, alluding to the day when birds chose their mates.
English emigrants took the customs of writing decorated cards and flowers to the United States and, in turn, US soldiers brought it back to Europe. Flower- and chocolate vendors then popularized it even further as a moment to give (or expect) a romantic gift, and globalization spread it to all corners of the world.
So the reasons for buying flowers for your crush that day is ultimately due to a Roman martyr and good marketing campaigns. Valentine’s day is popular all over the world, but as a future diplomat, there are a few details to be careful about: if you are Japanese, then it’s the girls buying chocolate for the boys, whereas in Brazil, this day is celebrated on June 12th.
Anne-Sophie WISLOCKI & Michael WISLOCKI