February 14, it’s that time of the year when couples begin booking fancy restaurants and going on romantic getaways and trips. Bring out the greeting cards, and start calling the flower shops because love and affection are surely going to be in the air. Despite the romantic dinners, the chocolates and roses, there are actually some parts of the world that celebrate this romantic holiday very differently. Here are 5 uncommon and unheard of facts about Valentine’s Day!
1. Japan’s take on the holiday was caused by a mistranslation
Sometime in the 1950’s Japanese chocolate companies started marketing the Western idea of Valentine’s Day to boost their sales. Not knowing how Valentine’s Day was celebrated, an executive of one of the companies mistranslated the words “man” and “woman” by interchanging them, in the process making it seem as if it was customary for women to gift their men with chocolates. Even after the correction of the translation from English to Japanese was made, the Japanese still continued to follow the misconception of the holiday as if it were tradition. Today, Japanese women have a variety of chocolates to choose from with milk and truffle chocolates being the most commonly bought. Additionally, if Valentine’s Day in Japan is a day for the women to express their love and affection, men are expected to return the favor on March 14. This tradition truly rakes in more profit for the chocolate companies!
2. Saudi Arabia does not allow the celebration of Valentine’s Day
The Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice has ordered florists and store owners to remove any red or heart shaped Valentine’s Day paraphernalia from their shops. The Committee, which functions as the Religious Police of the Saudi Arabia government, deploys patrollers to make rounds during the holiday in order to penalize those who have disobeyed the order. Similarly, men and women are not allowed to celebrate the romantic occasion. In fact, all who wear red face quite severe punishments including being barred from school, work, and other public institutions. These people are also publicly shamed on the streets. The government implements such consequences for disobedience due to the belief that celebrating romantic holidays can promote out of wedlock contact between males and females.
3. There is no known historical event that inspired Valentine’s Day
While there is no historical evidence of what could have led to the celebration of Valentine’s Day, many believe that it begun sometime in 270 AD under the Roman Emperor Claudius II’s reign. Under his reign, it was said that a Bishop named Valentine was caught performing wedding ceremonies behind the Emperor’s back. When Claudius II found out about it, he had Bishop Valentine jailed. It was during his time behind bars that the jailor’s daughter received a love note from her admirer with the words, “From your Valentine.” How…sweet!
4. Origin of the saying, “To wear your heart on your sleeve”
Believe it or not but the very famous saying, “to wear your heart on your sleeve” is closely connected to Valentine’s Day with its roots originating back to the Middle Ages. It was said that youngsters in villages were asked to draw a name from a bowl. Whoever’s name they picked would be their respective Valentine. These young men and women would then have to display the names on their sleeves by using a pin and leave it on for about a week’s time for all to see. How romantic, indeed!
5. The Finnish celebrate Friend’s Day instead
While most of the world celebrates a day of love and affection with their significant others, the people of Finland celebrate Ystävänpäivä or “Friend’s Day.” Unlike Valentine’s Day, Ystävänpäivä is all about celebrating friendships with close mates and loved ones. Additionally, it is common practice for people to send each other greeting cards expressing their thankfulness and appreciation for the other person. Gifts are also an alternative and exchanges do happen within circles of friends. Although this holiday was established pretty late, this Finnish holiday is also a popular day for men to propose to women and for couples to get married.
With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, don’t forget to greet your significant others, friends and loved ones with an “I love you.” You can say it in English but if you want to get creative, try saying it in Cantonese (Ngo oi ney), Danish (Jeg elsker dig), Japanese (Kimi o ai shiteru) or even Greek (S'agapo)! There are tons of languages to express your love and desire for your partners and loved ones but of course nothing is more special than a message from the heart.
On this day of hearts, Day Translations would like to greet everyone a
Happy Valentine’s Day!