It is a Christian celebration held annually on February 14th, commemorating the good deeds of St. Valentine of Rome related to the universal concept of love and affection.
It originated from the Catholic Church in protest against the pagan festivities of the Roman Empire.
In the tradition of Valentine’s Day, it symbolizes the love between couples.
Valentine’s Day is Western and has its origins, as mentioned, in Europe, although it later spread to the United States, China, Japan, Taiwan, among other countries.
In modern times, this tradition became famous and has been spreading worldwide over the years. Its expansion was such that hardly any country does not celebrate Valentine’s Day. But like everything else, linked to the culture of each place, there are differences in the celebration of this original festival.
Why is Valentine’s Day celebrated on February 14th?
Pope Gelasius I was the first to mark the celebration of St. Valentine on the calendar fifteen centuries ago.
Similar to other pagan celebrations, such as the Roman Saturnalia dedicated to the god Saturn and the cult of Sol Invictus during Christmas, the goal was to abolish the Lupercalia. This pagan festival, organized since ancient Rome, commemorated Lupercus, the protector of shepherds and flocks that recalled the she-wolf who nursed Romulus and Remus. To erase Lupercalia, Gelasius I established a festival in honor of St. Valentine, the saint whose day fell on the day before.
Legends suggest that the commemoration recalled an ancient bishop, named Valentine of Terni, who, two centuries earlier, defied the Roman emperor and decided to officiate weddings among soldiers, despite the prohibition. As punishment, Claudius II ordered his execution, a martyrdom that Pope Gelasius I later remembered with the celebration on February 14th.
The celebration of Valentine’s Day continued within the Church until 1969 when Pope Paul VI decided to honor only the saint and set aside the lovers, a tradition that Pope Francis reinstated after his arrival at the Vatican.
Beyond its religious origin, the celebration of February 14th has spread worldwide to become a date marked by flowers, greeting cards, and chocolates exchanged by many couples.
Valentine’s Day in Spain
The popularity of Valentine’s Day in Spain is increasing: six out of ten Spaniards claim they will celebrate in some way.
In Spain, it is typical to give chocolates and flowers to the partner. It is also common to go out to dinner or lunch with the partner or even to take weekend getaways for travel or to relax in a spa or a charming hotel.
Therefore, when thinking about trips and getaways, Madrid, Rome, London, Paris will be some of the most sought-after destinations for this date due to their symbolism of love. It is also very typical in Spain to give heart-shaped cakes, generally with cream and strawberries or cheese and strawberry jam, for their white and red colors symbolizing love and passion.
Happy Valentine’s Day!