Happy Valentine's Day 2024: History and How to celebrate

Happy Valentines Day
Happy Valentines Day

Is there even a person that does not want love? Not a single person can be found. Love is something that is desired by everyone, from children to the elderly. As the tree dries up in the absence of water, so the human heart becomes a desert in the absence of love. Love is one of the human regulators of living happily. February 14, 'Happy Valentine's Day', is the official day of expressing multi-dimensional love between people of different ages and relationships, not only the young.

Valentine's Day 2024

Valentine's Day, also known as Saint Valentine's Day or the Feast of Saint Valentine, is an annual festival day celebrated on February 14 to celebrate love and affection. At first it was celebrated as a Christian festival honoring one or two Christian early martyrs named Saint Valentine, later it became a cultural, religious and commercial celebration of love and romance in different countries through the touch of folk traditions. Although it is celebrated in different countries of the world, the day is not a holiday in most of the countries including Bangladesh.

Though it is said that there is no specific day or date for love, love is all year round, all day long. Yet February 14 is regarded as a symbol of love. The reason why this day is taken as a symbol of love is that there are many historical events behind it.

Among the reasons that are known from history, some of the events surrounding the priest Saint Valentine are noteworthy.

Valentine's Day in History

The history of "Valentine's Day" is very ancient. Its source is the festival of "spiritual love," which was prevalent among the pagan Romans about 1700 years ago. Some legends were associated with this pagan festival, which later became popular among Roman Christians.

It is the story of the sacrifice of a Christian priest named Saint Valentine. Two such Saint Valentines can be found in history. One of them is claimed to have given his life, vowing to preach peace and love.

There are three interpretations of Valentine's Day found in the Catholic Encyclopedia. However, different stories are cited in different books. Among them, some of the famous incidents are highlighted below:

First Narrative: Saint Valentine was a child-loving, social and good-natured, and preacher of Christianity during the reign of Claudius II (214-270 AD), the Roman emperor.

On the other hand, the emperor of Rome was a worshiper of Gods and Goddesses. When asked by the emperor to worship the Gods and Goddesses, Valentine refused. Consequently, Valentine was imprisoned, and on February 14, 270 AD, the emperor executed Valentine for violating the state order.

Second Narrative: After St. Valentine was imprisoned, many young men and women in love visited him in prison every day and presented him with flowers. The visitors would keep St. Valentine uplifting by saying various incentive words. A blind daughter of a jailer also used to visit Valentine daily. For a long time they both talked their heart out. Gradually, Valentine fell in love with her. Later, St. Valentine's spiritual healing restored the eye sight to that blind girl. 

Thus, the popularity of St. Valentine increased. And so the king, being jealous of him, sentenced him to death. That day was February 14. Later, in 496 AD, Pope Gelasius I declared Valentine's Day on February 14th in commemoration of Julius Valentine.

How the world celebrates Valentine's Day

Valentine's Day is celebrated almost all over the world in different ways. These are some of the countries and their ways of celebrating:

In Bangladesh, Valentine's Day is celebrated with youthful joy and pure enthusiasm. SMS, e-mails or online chats are filled with romance. Besides, February 14 is regarded as the first day of spring. This adds more excitement among the people of Bangladesh, especially the youths. Gifts like panjabi, sari, flowers, chocolates, perfumes, greetings cards, favorite clothes or books are given to loved ones. Programs and music concerts are organized in universities and various public places. Young people dress up in Basanti attire. People like to spend quiet time with their loved ones.

Denmark has been celebrating this day as a public holiday since 1990. Apart from giving flowers, chocolates, cards, white flowers called snow-falls are given to each other as a symbol of love. Moreover, another popular tradition is exchanging lovers' cards.

France is regarded one of the most romantic cities in the world. A separate tradition of this country is the 'loterie d'amour' or "drawing for love" along with flowers, gifts, cards. Young women gather in a large room and choose the person they want.

Another tradition of theirs was the "Bonfire" where broken hearted people vow to live anew by throwing pictures of their ex-partners into the blazing bonfire. The practice got so out of control that the French government was compelled to ban it.

In South Korea, Valentine's Day is a very popular day among the youth. The atmosphere lasts for 2 months, starting from February 14 and concluding on April 14, with various exceptional events. On February 14, women expressing their feelings for the men of their choice, wooing them with gifts, flowers, chocolates.

From March 14, men start impressing women with gifts and expressing their love. And for singles, there is April 14, which they celebrate as Black-Day for being single.

In Philippines, Valentine's Day is celebrated in the same way as in Western countries. But over the past few years their culture has developed with over a thousand couples getting married on this day.

In Italy, Valentine's Day becomes more colorful as the day is celebrated as a spring festival. Having a candle light dinner together outside, especially near the green environment, sitting quietly, reading poetry or listening to favorite songs and expressing love for each other is the best scene on this day. Besides, couples exchange gifts with each other.

In Brazil, Brazilians celebrate this day as "Lover's Day" on June 12 instead of February 14. The day is celebrated across the country by presenting and receiving gifts and chocolates, having dinner with friends and loved ones, and playing music.

In South Africa, Valentine's Day culture is slightly different. Along with gifts, chocolates, and romantic dinner dates together, they also wear heart-shaped lockets and pin the names of their loved ones on their sleeves on this day; it is a part of the ancient Roman culture called Lupercalia. In this way, African men believe they can find out about the women they secretly love.

Which Countries banned Valentine's Day celebrations

Over time, the festival of 'spiritual love' transformed into a festival of biological desire and sexuality. However, this festival was banned in Italy, the heart of Christianity. But it was later revived in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

Due to strict adherence to religious customs, there is a ban on celebrating Valentine's Day in Arab countries including Iran, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, Malaysia, and Pakistan.

No matter how the world celebrates Valentine's Day, it is needless to say that it has become more popular than ever in the West as well as in the Asian continent.