St. Valentines Day is a celebration of love for all people. There are a lot of different traditions concerning ways to spend it. It depends not only upon the geographical position of the territory where this holiday is held but also upon the imagination of the person that worships love or is deeply in love, or is just the one whose soul is seeking how to quench his or her thirst for love. That's why in every language the expression "I love you" will lighten a sacred miracle inside one's heart.
On February the 14th people celebrate St. Valentines Day delivering gifts, sending greeting cards, the so-called, valentines, to their sweethearts, friends and members of their family. Usually all valentines have romantic verses, some of them have humorous pictures and sayings. All decorations on Valentines Day are either heart shaped or contain a lot of hearts, cupids and roses symbolizing love, care and devotion. These are the most common traditions. And to make Valentines Day more exquisite people from various places give something unique to it.
In Italy, it is a tradition to get engaged on Valentines Day. Especially in the Italian city of Turin, couples announce their engagement on this day. Before St. Valentines Day shops sell tiny baskets and cups filled with all sorts of bon-bons and tied with ribbons which people can present each other as St. Valentine's gifts. Here Valentines Day is a Spring Festival and is held in the open air. People gather in gardens where they listen to music and hear some romantic poetry. Later on they stroll through the parks and gardens together with their valentines.
In Germany and Austria, there has long been a tradition for men to present their sweethearts with flowers on Valentines Day. Generally they give roses but particular attention is being paid to the kind of flowers the woman prefers. Gifts in the shape of love tokens are given on this day with lovely romantic messages. In Denmark, people send pressed white flowers called snowdrops to their sweethearts and friends. Danish men also send joking letters. In these letters the sender writes a rhyme but does not sign his name. Instead, he signs the valentine with dots, where one dot stands for each letter of his name. If the woman who gets it guesses his name, he rewards her with a present. The same custom is also preserved in Great Britain.
In France, people send elegant greeting cards called cartes d'amities with tender messages. These cards are used only on Valentines Day. Here existed also a tradition of calling and pairing of valentines. Unmarried people were going outside their houses calling out across from one window to another looking for a pair. But the government was forced into handing down a decree to stop this tradition because there was too much nastiness, ridicule or even malice in it.
In Britain, some unmarried women get up before sunrise on Valentines Day. They stand by the window watching for a man to pass. They believe that the first man they see, or someone who looks like him, will marry them within a year. This tradition is mentioned by W. Shakespeare in Hamlet and in A Midsummer Night's Dream.
In Australia, one may find a very interesting story concerning St. Valentines Day. The gold miners in Australia who received their wealth from the Ballarat mines were willing to pay an impressive sum for making elaborate valentines for their sweethearts. The merchants generally sent orders of a thousand pounds at a time to make St. Valentines Day more gorgeous. These valentines were made of satin cushions and decorated with flowers, colored shells, ribbons. They were neatly kept in adorned boxes.
In the USA, the tradition of giving St. Valentine's Day cards was rude at first but later it became more humorous. It was so due to the fact that people sent nicely decorated cards to their beloved ones and those not in the best of tastes cards - to their former lovers or dear ones. Special was the fact that St. Valentine's Day cards were carefully lithographed and hand-colored, with intricate and beautiful design and had a different flavor of their own.
In Japan, ladies buy chocolate for men. There are two kinds of chocolate: kiri-choco which is meant for friends or relatives with no romantic connotations at all and hon-mei which females usually buy for a sweetheart or husband and is a gift inspired by love and romance. One month later comes men's turn to reciprocate. White Day on March 14th is a day when men give gifts of chocolate to all the ladies who remembered them on Valentines Day, the chocolate is often white due to the name of the day.
In China, Valentines Day is celebrated on the 7th day of the 7th lunar month in the Chinese calendar. There is an amazing love story behind this day about the 7th daughter of Emperor of Heaven and an orphaned cowherd. The Emperor separated them. The 7th daughter was forced to move to the star called Vega and the cowherd moved to the star named Altair. They are allowed to meet only once a year on the 7th day of 7th lunar month.
St. Valentines Day is a celebration of love and romance. That's why it is so widespread and popular. No matter what is the origin of Valentines Day, people celebrate the joys of love which is universal.