February is sometimes called as the Month of Love, but February 14th is always known as the Day of Love or the Valentine’s Day, which is considered as a Special Day to celebrate Love and Friendship around the world.
A Short note on the Valentine’s Day in Various Cultures
In North America, Valentine's Day is now most closely associated with the mutual exchange of love notes in the form of “Valentines”. Modern “Valentines” or the Valentine symbols include the heart-shaped outline and the figure of the winged Cupid. Since the 19th century, the practice of hand writing notes has largely given way to the exchange of mass-produced greeting cards. On the basis of the estimates by Greeting Card Association, world-wide, approximately one billion valentine cards are sent each year, making the day the second largest card-sending holiday of the year behind Christmas. The association also estimates that women purchase approximately 85 percent of all valentines.
In the US and the UK, to be awakened by a kiss on Valentine's Day is considered very good luck, and many people make their family wake up with a kiss on February 14th. In the UK some people host a Valentine Tea for their friends.
In Japan and Korea, Valentine's Day has emerged as a day on which women give candy to men they like. Rather than being voluntary however, this has become for many women, especially those who work in offices, an obligation, and they give chocolates to all their male co-workers, sometimes at significant personal expense. This chocolate is known as giri-choco, in Japanese, from the words giri (obligation) and choco, a common short version of chokoreto, meaning chocolate. This is opposed to honmei-choco, which is given to a person that someone loves or has a strong relationship with. In Japan there is also a reciprocal day called White Day on March 14th. On this day, men are supposed to return the favor by giving something to those who gave them chocolates on Valentine's Day. Many men, however, give only to their girlfriends. Originally the return gift was supposed to be white chocolate or marshmallows, hence the name: White Day. However, more recently men have taken the name to a different meaning, thus lingerie is quite a common gift.
In Turin (A city in Italy where the 2006 Winter Olympic Games was held), Italian couples usually announce their engagements on Valentine's Day.
In Korea, there is also an additional Black Day, held on April 14, when males who did not receive anything for Valentine's Day gather together to eat Jajangmyun, the Chinese-style noodles in black sauce.
In Brazil, there is no such day as Valentine's Day. Instead, June 12 is celebrated as the Day of the Enamored or Boyfriend's/Girlfriend's Day. On this day, boyfriends and girlfriends, husbands and wives, exchange gifts (lingerie, chocolates, and more), cards and usually a flower bouquet. This day is chosen probably because it is one day before the Saint Anthony's day, there known as the marriage saint, when many single women perform popular rituals in order to find a nice husband.
In Colombia, Love and Friendship Day is celebrated on the third Friday and Saturday in September, because of commercial issues. In this country, having the Amigo Secreto or a Secret Friend is quite popular. It is a tradition which consists in raffling the recipient of a gift, without him/her knowing who gave it.
Valentine’s Day in Iran
According to some documents the ancient Iranians used to celebrate the Day of Love at the end of Bahman (coinciding with February 18) or in the beginning of Esfand (coinciding with February 19), and the feast was known as Spendarmat or Spendarmaz.
In present-day Iran, Esfandgan Feast, which is devoted to women and mothers, is celebrated on Spandarmaz Day in Esfand, the last month of the Iranian calendar, to remember the superior status of mothers as well as their kindness and self-sacrifice.
In Iranian Culture, Valentine’s Day is finding its place in the hearts of many Iranians particularly during the recent years. Undoubtedly, Iranians are hungry for joy and pleasure. Reliable evidences indicate that the number of Iranians who are celebrating the Valentine’s Day is dramatically rising. Young people of Iran argue that celebrating love is a part of Persian Culture and Tradition, dating back thousands of years and it must be always tactfully celebrated.
Valentine’s Flowers and their Messages
One of the most popular gifts offered in Valentine’s Day is a bunch of flowers. Flowers have the ability to cheer and brighten up any place, room in a home or in an office, with their beauty and fragrance, and while they are not everlasting, through their color and smell they are always cherished and appreciated with a smile. Here are the various types of flowers usually sent as the gifts in Valentine’s Day together with the messages expressed by their colors:
A. Lily Flower: It is called Sossan or Zanbagh in Persian. Peruvian Lilies represent friendship, pink Lilies stand for wealth and prosperity, and the Lilies of valley show devotion. Never send the orange Lilies in Valentine’s Day since they convey hatred.
B. Tulip Flower: Tulips, which originated in Iran and Turkey (where they are named as Laleh), did not become popular in Europe until the 17th century, but now loved and considered elegant worldwide. Iranian and Turkish culture link red tulips to undying love. Yellow tulips symbolize happiness, and the white are believed to demonstrate forgiveness.
C. Carnations: They generally symbolize love in all its varieties. White Carnations hint at pure love, light red at admiration and darker shades at deep love. The more distinct is the pink variety, which is said to have originated from the Virgin Mary’s tears and thus stands for a mother’s eternal love.
D. Roses: They are the ultimate Valentine’s Day flowers. A rose is a perennial flower shrub or vine of the genus Rosa (in Persian: Gol-e Sorkh), within the family Rosaceae. One of the varieties of rose family is Suri (aka Souri) flower, which most Iranians call it as Gol-e Mohammadi. Roses have been considered as the flowers of passion and love since the ancient Persian, Greek, and Roman times. However every shade carries a distinct message and some are not linked to romance at all. Red is as generally known for love, but yellow stands only for friendship. The white represents innocence and a pink rose whispers “Thank You”.
Valentine’s Day in Poetry
Valentine's Day has been used in one of the poems written by William Shakespeare.
To-morrow is Saint Valentine's day,
All in the morning betime,
And I a maid at your window,
To be your Valentine.
Then up he rose, and donn'd his clothes,
And dupp'd the chamber-door;
Let in the maid, that out a maid
Never departed more.
William Shakespeare, Hamlet, Act IV
The modern cliché Valentine's Day poem can be found in the collection of English nursery rhymes Gammer Gurton's Garland (1784):
The rose is red, the violet's blue
The honey's sweet, and so are you
Thou are my love and I am thine
I drew thee to my Valentine
The lot was cast and then I drew
And Fortune said it shou'd be you
Valentine's Day is traditionally a day on which lovers express their love for each other by kissing and hugging. The Persian term for hug as aghoosh has been literary and figuratively used in many poems by various poets. A collection of those poems selected by this author may be also viewed online as the Chain of Poems on Hug.
Happy Valentine’s Day!
Manouchehr Saadat Noury, PhD
Saadat Noury, M. (2006): Online Article on “Suri, the Persian Rose”
Saadat Noury, M. (2010): Online Article on “A Day to celebrate Love and Friendship”
Saadat Noury, M. (2010): Online Article on “Celebrating Moments of Valentine’s Day”
Saadat Noury, M. (2010): Online Article on “Valentine’s Flowers and their Messages”
Saadat Noury, M. (2010): Online “Chain of Poems on Love”
Saadat Noury, M. (2011): Online “Chain of Poems on Hug”
Wikipedia Encyclopedia (2011): Online Note on Valentine’s Day
Originally published online on February 12, 2011