Valentine's day

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Valentine's Day card from about 1910

The Valentine's Day is on February 14 committed. The custom of this day goes back to the feast of St. Valentinus , a martyr whose hagiography may contain the vitae of several martyrs of this name.

The feast day of St. Valentinus on February 14th was introduced by Pope Gelasius in the year 469 for the whole Church, but in 1969 it was deleted from the general Roman calendar . However, there are widespread church services around Valentine's Day in which married couples are blessed.

However, there is evidence that the saint's passion and even his existence were invented. It has been mistakenly believed that a basilica funded by a donor named Valentin was built for a saint named Valentin.


In martyrologies , the lives of various martyrs named Valentinus are cited in connection with February 14, for example the life of St. Valentine of Rome, who suffered martyrdom because he trusted soldiers who were forbidden to marry, and worship services during the persecution of Christians in the Roman Empire celebrated for Christians. According to a legend, he healed the blind daughter of his overseer while he was in captivity and wrote her a farewell letter before his execution, signed “Your Valentine”.

The festival of St. Valentinus was first associated with romantic love in the circles around Geoffrey Chaucer in the 14th century, when the tradition of courtly love was flourishing . In 18th century England, it became an occasion for lovers to express their love for one another by giving each other flowers and sweets and sending greeting cards ("Valentines"). In some regions of Europe, couples in love give each other “Valentine's keys” as a romantic symbol and invitation to unlock the heart of the giver. Children are also given such keys to ward off epilepsy, also known as "Saint Valentine's Disease". Valentine's Day symbols used today are objects with a heart-shaped outline, doves and the figure of the winged messenger of love Cupid . Since the 19th century, handwritten Valentines have given way to mass-produced greeting cards.

Valentine's Day is a festival in the Anglican communion and the Lutheran Church. Some of the Orthodox churches also celebrate the feast of St. Valentinus, but on July 6th in honor of the Roman priest Valentin and on July 30th in honor of Bishop Valentin of Terni . The Roman Catholic Church commits the memory of St. Valentin of Raetia on January 7th.

Saint Valentine

There were several early Christian saints named Valentinus. For February 14, there are Valentin of Rome (Valentinus presb. M. Romae) and Valentin of Terni (Valentinus ep. Interamnensis M. Romae) , although it is possible that they are the same saints.

Valentin of Rome was a priest in Rome who was martyred in 269 and buried on the Via Flaminia . The relics of St. Valentin were kept in the church and catacombs of San Valentino in Rome, which remained an important pilgrimage site throughout the Middle Ages , until the saint's relics were transferred to the church of Santa Prassede during the pontificate of Nicholas IV . The skull relic of St. Valentinus is kept in the Basilica of Santa Maria in Cosmedin in Rome. Other relics can be found in the Carmelite Church on Whitefriar Street in Dublin .

Valentin von Terni became bishop of Interamna, today's Terni , and is said to have been martyred during the persecution under Emperor Aurelian in 273. He is also buried on Via Flaminia, but in a different place from Valentine of Rome. His relics are in the basilica in Terni, which is under his patronage.

The literary scholar Jack B. Oruch stated that the vitae of the two saints could be found in almost every church and monastery in Europe.

The Catholic Encyclopedia lists a third Saint Valentine mentioned in early martyrologies of February 14th. He suffered martyrdom in Africa with a number of companions, nothing more is known about him. His skull relic is kept and venerated in New Minster Abbey in Winchester .

St. Valentine's Day is celebrated in various denominations and can also be found in the saint calendars of some Lutheran churches.

In 1969 the feast of St. Valentine was removed from the general Roman calendar . In years when the day of remembrance is not liturgically displaced by another, special word services with blessings sometimes take place.

The day of remembrance is still celebrated in the extraordinary form of the Roman rite , also in Balzan on Malta , where relics of the saint are venerated.

In the Eastern Orthodox Churches where St. Valentin of Rome, this commemoration is celebrated on July 6th, that of St. Valentin von Terni on July 30th.


St. Valentin von Terni , illumination of a medieval manuscript

Jean C. Cooper writes in the Dictionary of Christianity , St. Valentin was a Roman priest "who was imprisoned because he supported persecuted Christians".

Contemporary records of St. Valentin were most likely destroyed during the persecution of Christians under Diocletian and Galerius in the early 4th century. In the 5th or 6th century, an account of the martyrdom of Saint Valentine of Rome was published in a work entitled Passio Marii et Marthae , perhaps based on that of other saints. The same events can also be found in the Martyrology of Bedas the Venerable , which was compiled in the 8th century. They say that St. Valentine was persecuted as a Christian and was personally interrogated by the Roman Emperor Claudius II . Claudius was impressed by Valentin and tried to convert him to Roman paganism , with the intention of saving his life. Valentin refused and tried to convert Claudius to Christianity instead. For this reason he was executed. Before his execution he is said to have performed a miracle by healing Julia, the blind daughter of his overseer Asterius. Julia, Asterius, their entire family and the servants (47 people in total) came to believe in Jesus and were baptized.

A later Passio repeated this and added that Pope Julius I had a church built over Valentine's grave. This was repeated in later martyrologies, beginning with Beda's martyrology, and it is also found in the Legenda aurea from the 13th century.

Associations with romantic love


Despite what many authors claim, there is no evidence of a connection between the Roman festival of Lupercalia and Valentine's Day. The first romantic connotations came with Chaucer's poem Parlement of Foules ("Parliament of the Birds") about St. Valentin in the second half of the 14th century. It is believed that there were links with some Greco-Roman feast days in February, which were supposedly dedicated to fertility and love, but before Chaucer no links between St. Valentin and romantic love are confirmed.

In the Roman Empire, the Lupercalia was an ancient fertility rite and was celebrated in Rome from February 13th to 15th. The festival was also dedicated to Juno Februarata, the cleaner. Pope Gelasius abolished the Lupercalia at the end of the 5th century. Some researchers believe that Gelasius replaced the Lupercalia with the feast of Purificatio Mariae , but in fact it is only the fortieth day after the feast of the Epiphany . In the time of Gelasius, the feast of the Purification of the Virgin was only celebrated in Jerusalem, on February 14th, because the feast of the birth of Jesus Christ was celebrated there on January 6th. In the 6th century, the feast of the Purification of the Virgin Mary was held on February 2nd and has since been celebrated in Rome and other places.

Alban Butler, in his work Lifes of the Principal Saints, claimed without reference that women and men had drawn names from a jug during the Lupercalia in order to marry that person, from which the present day customs of Valentine's Day should be derived. In fact, they should come from the Middle Ages and thus have nothing to do with the Lupercalia.

Chaucer's Parlement of Foules

According to Jack B. Oruch, the first documented association between romantic love and Valentine's Day can be traced back to Geoffrey Chaucer's Parlement of Foules (1382):

"For this was on seynt Volantynys day
Whan euery bryd comyth there to chese his make."

"It happened on Valentine's Day
when each bird came to choose its mate."

- Geoffrey Chaucer : Parlement of Foules 1382

Chaucer wrote the poem to mark the first anniversary of the engagement of King Richard II of England to Anne of Bohemia . The marriage contract was signed on May 2, 1381. The readers of the poem would have assumed - according to Jack B. Oruch - that Chaucer was referring to February 14th as Valentine's Day. Henry Ansgar Kelly , Research Professor of English at the University of California, Los Angeles, on the other hand, is of the opinion that Chaucer was referring to the feast of St. Valentine of Genoa , a bishop of Genoa who died in 307; it was apparently celebrated on May 3rd. Oruch also noted that on February 14th, on the equinox , spring began. This was only changed with the introduction of the more precise Gregorian calendar in 1582. In Chaucer's lifetime, today's February 14th fell on February 23rd in the Julian calendar . In England the birds should have started to mate and nest from then on.

Chaucer's Parlement of Foules allegedly refers to an already established tradition, but before Chaucer there is no evidence of such a tradition. The speculative derivation of the custom has been presented since the 18th century in particular by Alban Butler in his Butler's Lives of Saints , but also by other scholars in their writings. Above all "the idea that Valentine's Day perpetuates the customs of the Lupercalia has been accepted and interpreted in different ways to this day".

Around the same time as Chaucer, Otton de Grandson from Savoy , John Gower from England and the knight Pardo from Valencia also wrote poems about the mating of birds on Valentine's Day. Due to the difficulty of dating medieval works, it cannot be precisely determined whether Chaucer first came up with the idea and influenced the others with it.

Court of Love

The first description of February 14th as the annual festival of love appears in the Charter of the Court of Love . The charter, supposedly from King Charles VI. Published by France in Mantes-la-Jolie in 1400 , describes great festivities at which members of the royal court were present. This included a feast, love song and poetry competitions, tournament matches, and dance. There is no other record of the court, and none of the personalities named in the charter were present at Mantes-la-Jolie, except for the queen consort Isabeau de Bavière , who probably only wanted everything while she was waiting for the plague.

Valentine's Day poetry

The oldest surviving Valentine's Day work is a 15th century rondeau from Duke Charles of Orléans to his wife, which begins as follows:

"Je suis desja d'amour tanné,
Ma tres doulce Valentinée,"

"I'm sick of love,
my sweet Valentine,"

- Charles of Orléans : Rondeau VI , lines 1–2

Charles wrote these lines while imprisoned in the Tower of London after the Battle of Azincourt in 1415.

In English, the Paston Letters are the oldest work on Valentine's Day, which Margery Brewes dedicated to her future husband John Paston in 1477, including "my right well-beloved Valentine" .

Ophelia also sings in William Shakespeare's Hamlet (1600–1601):

"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. "

"Tomorrow is Saint Valentine's Day,
probably early at the time,
And I, a maiden, on the
knock of the window, Will be your Valentine.
He was ready, put on his dress,
put on the door of the chamber,
let in the maiden who
never came here as a maid. "

- William Shakespeare : Hamlet (1600–1601), Act 4, Scene 5

John Donne used the legend of mating birds as the beginning of his epithalamium for the wedding of Princess Elisabeth Stuart , the daughter of King James I , with the Elector Friedrich V on Valentine's Day:

"Hayle Bishop Valentine whose day this is
All the Ayre is thy Diocese
And all the chirping Queristers
And other birds ar thy parishioners
Thou marryest every year
The Lyrick Lark, and the gray whispering Doue,
The Sparrow that neglects his life for loue,
The houshold bird with the redd stomacher
Thou makst the Blackbird speede as soone,
As doth the Goldfinch, or the Halcyon
The Husband Cock looks out and soone is spedd
And meets his wife, which brings her feather-bed.
This day more cheerfully than ever shine
This day which might inflame thy selfe old Valentine. "

- John Donne : Epithalamion Vpon Frederick Count Palatine and the Lady Elizabeth marryed on St. Valentines day

The verse Roses are red recalls traditions that first appeared in Edmund Spenser's The Faerie Queene (1590):

"She bath'd with roses red, and violets blew,
And all the sweetest flowres, that in the forrest grew."

- Edmund Spenser : The Faerie Queene (1590)

A more modern Valentine's Day poem can be found in Gammer Gurton's Garland (1784) collection of English nursery rhymes :

"The rose is red, the violet's blue, the
honey's sweet, and so are you.
Thou art 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. "

- Joseph Ritson : Gammer Gurton's Garland (1784)

In the modern age

English "Valentine" greeting card from 1876

In 1797 a British publisher brought out The Young Man's Valentine Writer , which contained many verses for young lovers who could not write poetry themselves. Print shops had already started producing Valentine's cards with verses and sketches. They were called Mechanical Valentines . They became so popular in England in the early 19th century that they were made in factories. Fancy Valentines were produced with real lace and bows, and then with paper lace from the middle of the 19th century. Despite expensive postage, 60,000 Valentine's cards were sent by post in Great Britain annually.

After the postal reforms by Sir Rowland Hill with the introduction of the postage stamp ( One Penny Black ) in 1840, the number of Valentine's Day cards rose due to the lowering of postal charges; in 1841 there were around 400,000. This made the Valentines more practical, but made them less personal. It also became possible to send the cards without a sender. In the otherwise prudish Victorian era , such simple verses could be exchanged quickly. Production continued to grow; the Cupid's Manufactory , as Charles Dickens called it, employed over 3,000 women. The Laura Seddon Greeting Card Collection at Manchester Metropolitan University contains 450 Valentine's Day cards dating back to the early 19th century, brought out by the then leading publishers in the United Kingdom. The collection appeared in Seddon's work Victorian Valentines (1996).

The first mass production of Valentine's Day cards with embossed paper tip took place in the United States and was distributed by Esther Howland of Worcester, Massachusetts from 1848 . Howland's father owned a large bookstore and stationery store, but she was inspired by a British Valentine's Day card she received from a business associate of her father's. With the idea of ​​designing similar Valentine's Day cards, Howland founded a publishing company and imported paper lace and floral decorations from England. An author in Graham's American Monthly noted in 1849: "Valentine's Day [...] is, or already is, a national holiday." Since 2001, the Greeting Card Association has presented the Esther Howland Award for a Greeting Card Visionary annually .

Almost half of the British population has been spending money on Valentine's gifts since the 19th century; in 2015, around 1.9 billion pounds were earned on cards, flowers, chocolates and other gifts. The Valentine's Day trade in the mid-19th century heralded more commercialized holidays in the United States.

In 1868 the British chocolate maker Cadbury designed Fancy Boxes , decorated boxes of chocolates in the shape of a heart for Valentine's Day. Until the second half of the 20th century, the practice of exchanging cards was expanded to include all kinds of gifts, including jewelry.

The US Greeting Card Association estimates Valentine shipments in the United States at 190 million. About half of this goes to your own spouse, children and parents. If the Valentine's Day exchange cards from school practice are included, the number increases to about 1 billion, with teachers being the ones who receive the most exchange cards. Average Valentine's Day earnings also continue to rise in the United States.

As the Internet became more and more popular around the turn of the millennium, new traditions emerged. Millions of people use digital media every year to create and send Valentine's Day greetings such as e-cards , love coupons or printable greeting cards. In 2010, an estimated 15 million such messages were sent using digital media. Due to its increasing commercialization, Valentine's Day is almost considered a holiday.

The feast of St. Valentinus and spring customs

While the European folk customs associated with Valentine's Day have been overshadowed by modern Anglo-American customs that associate the day with romantic love, there are still some associations between the sacred and the advent of spring.

In addition to the British customs of sending cards, flowers, chocolates and other gifts, there are still various regional traditions in England today. In Norfolk, for example, a character named "Jack Valentine" knocks on the back door of houses and leaves sweets and presents for the children. Yet many children are afraid of him.

In Slovenia , St. Valentin, also called Zdravko there, as the saint of spring, health and the patron saint of beekeepers and pilgrims. There is a saying that the saint “brings the key to the roots”, that is, on this day plants and flowers should begin to grow. On the feast of the saint, the first labor in the vineyards and in the fields is celebrated. It is also said that this is the day the birds court and mate. Another term is "Valentin - prvi spomladin" ("Valentin - the first saint of spring"), which proclaims the beginning of spring in some regions (especially in the Weißkrain ). Valentine's Day has only recently been celebrated in Slovenia as a day of love. Traditionally, the day of love was the feast of St. Gregory on March 12th or the Feast of Saint Vincent of Valencia on January 22nd. The patron saint of love is St. Anthony of Padua , whose feast is celebrated on June 13th.

Valentine's Day customs worldwide

Valentine's Day celebrations, traditions and customs have evolved in England since the early modern age . They spread to the English-speaking world in the 19th century, including immigrants to the United States, and since the late 20th and early 21st centuries beyond, to East Asia.



Window dressing (1969)

In West Germany, Valentine's Day became known after the Second World War through US soldiers stationed in the country. In 1950 the first "Valentine's Ball" was held in Nuremberg . Valentine's Day became generally known through the increased advertising of the floristry and confectionery industry, which began before February 14th .

In Germany too, flowers are still one of the most common gifts on Valentine's Day. For Valentine's Day 2018 alone, Lufthansa Cargo transported 800 tonnes of cut flowers, placed in water, at a temperature, mostly intercontinental, to Germany.


Similar to Germany - advertised for decades by flower and gift providers - there is a fairly broad movement in giving gifts. Mostly flowers, mainly to women, mainly from men, businesses or employers, mainly to promote partnership, relationship, friendship.

Finland and Estonia

In Finland, Valentine's Day is called ystävänpäivä ("Friend's Day "). Cards or small gifts are usually sent anonymously. In Estonia, Valentine's Day was originally referred to as valentinipäev , but sõbrapäev , which is a loan translation of the Finnish name, is also increasingly used .


In Greece there is no connection between Valentine's Day (Ημέρα του Αγίου Βαλεντίνου) and romantic love. In the Orthodox Church, Hyacinth of Caesarea is considered the patron saint of lovers, which is celebrated on July 3rd. In today's Greece, this tradition has been largely superseded by the “globalized” form of Valentine's Day customs.


Many Christians make pilgrimages to the Carmelite Church on Whitefriar Street in Dublin on Valentine's Day , as there are relics of Saint Valentine of Rome. At the shrine they pray in hopes of finding romance.


"Love lock" in Rome

In Italy, lovers usually meet at waterways or bridges. A so-called love lock is often attached there, on which the lovers write their initials, sometimes with the date; A photo of the couple is even stuck on large locks. The partners throw their keys in the water and make a wish. Although the desire for it should not be expressed, most of them wish to have found eternal love.


In Portugal, Valentine's Day is called Dia dos namorados and means something like "day of lovers" or "day of lovers".


In recent years, the celebration of Valentine's Day has also found its way into Romania. Several groups, institutions, and nationalist organizations such as Noua Dreaptǎ condemned it as superficial, purely commercial kitsch imported from the West. In order to protect the national culture, the Dragobete spring festival, which is still celebrated in parts of southern Romania, was revived as a traditional Romanian festival day for lovers, the date of which varied regionally, usually February 24th. Dragobete is named after a character from Romanian folklore. Due to folk etymology, his name may have been associated with the word drag ("dear"), which can also be found in the word dragoste ("love").


Valentine's Day is also known in Denmark, Norway and Sweden, but it is not celebrated on such a large scale. From the 1960s onwards, the customs came mainly from America. You take time for a romantic dinner with your partner, send greeting cards to each other or give your lover a red rose. The flower trade in particular is trying to make the day more popular. In Sweden the day is called Alla hjärtans dag ("Day of all hearts").


In Spain, Valentine's Day is also known as Día de los enamorados ("Lovers' Day") and is celebrated there in a similar way to the United Kingdom.

United Kingdom

Since the 15th century, Valentine couples have been formed in England to send each other small gifts or poems. The couples formed by drawing lots on the previous evening or through their first contact on Valentine's Day. In the Victorian era, lovers developed the custom of sending each other jewelry cards.

In Great Britain, almost half the population spends money on Valentine's gifts, and around £ 1.3 billion annually on cards, flowers, chocolates and other gifts. The number of Valentine's Day cards is estimated at 25 million.

In Wales, Valentine's Day is not celebrated, but “Dydd Santes Dwynwen” is celebrated on January 25th. This is the feast day of St. Dwynwen, a Welsh saint who is considered the patron saint of lovers. As symbols of love, not only sweets and other gifts are exchanged in Wales, but also traditional, delicately carved wooden spoons, the so-called "love spoons".


South Africa

Valentine's Day is also celebrated in South Africa. There it is custom to wear clothes in the colors white and red, which symbolize purity and love.


Latin America

In some Latin American countries such as Costa Rica, Mexico and Puerto Rico, Valentine's Day is known as Día de los enamorados ("Day of Lovers") or Día del amor y la amistad ("Day of Love and Friendship"). Usually you express your appreciation for one another. In Guatemala, Valentine's Day is known as Día del Cariño ("Favorite Day").

In Brazil, the Dia dos Namorados ("Day of Lovers" or "Day of Friends") is celebrated on June 12th, possibly because the feast of St. Anthony is committed. A custom known as Simpatia is known among women to find a good husband or friend. Couples exchange gifts, chocolates, cards and bouquets with one another. Since February 14th is not celebrated as lovers' day because of the Brazilian Carnival, Brazil is a popular travel destination for singles from Western Europe in February.

In large parts of Latin America, the Día del amor y la amistad and the Amigo secreto ("secret friend") are very popular and are celebrated together on February 14th, with the exception of Colombia, where the festival is celebrated on the third Saturday in September.

United States

Valentine's Day specials in the United States

In the United States, the number of Valentine's Day cards sent is estimated at approximately 190 million. Together with the cards that schoolchildren and teachers exchange with each other, the estimates come to around a billion. In the last few decades, Valentine's Day has become increasingly commercialized and has become a popular occasion for giving gifts; special advertising campaigns boost sales.



In China , the western Valentine's Day is called the “lovers' festival ” ( Qíngrénjié , Chinese 情人 節 / 情人 节 - “literally lovers festival ”). The traditional Chinese Valentine's Day is celebrated on the seventh day of the seventh month of the lunar calendar (more precisely bound lunar calendar ) and commemorates the only day of the year on which, according to a fable, the constellations of the cowherd and the weaver meet. In Chinese culture , the festival is also called “the night of the seven ” ( Qīxī ,七夕 - “festival of lovers”). According to legend, the cowherd's star , Altair , and the weaver's star , Vega , are separated from each other by a "silver river" ( Yínhé ,銀河 / 银河), the Milky Way , but cross it on the seventh day of the seventh month of the Chinese Lunar calendar . This day is traditionally known in Japan under the name Tanabata ( Japanese 七夕 kana た な ば た). Today, after the calendar reform , it is celebrated there on July 7th, according to the Gregorian calendar .


In India, Kamadeva , the Lord of Love , has been worshiped since ancient times . Examples of this are the erotic carvings in the Khajuraho temple group and the Kamasutra . In the Middle Ages, this tradition was lost, Kamadeva was no longer celebrated, and public displays of a sexual nature were increasingly frowned upon. This suppression of public sentiment continued into the 1990s.

From 1992, Valentine's Day celebrations prevailed in India. Valentine's Day became better known through television stations such as MTV , radio programs and love letter competitions, and the card industry increased its sales significantly, including through economic liberalization.

In recent years, Hindu and Islamic traditionalists have condemned the holiday. The right-wing populist party Shiv Sena and organizations of the nationalist Sangh Parivar urged their supporters to avoid Valentine's Day customs and the “public admission of love” because this was “foreign to Indian culture”. Although these protests are organized by political elites, the protesters themselves are middle-class Hindus who fear that the globalization of India will destroy the traditions of their society. Despite these protests, Valentine's Day is growing in popularity in India.

Valentine's Day is heavily criticized by the Indian left. This is seen as a gateway for “Western imperialism”, “neocolonialism” and “exploitation of the working class through commercialization by multinational corporations”. It is said that, as a result of Valentine's Day, the working class and the rural poor will become more socially, politically and geographically separated from the hegemonic capitalist power structure. Right-wing Hindu nationalists are also hostile to Valentine's Day. In February 2012, Subash Chouhan , the then president of the Bajrang Dal militants , warned couples against "kissing or hugging" in public places under threat of physical violence. One is not against love, but criticizes "the vulgar representation of love in public places."


At the beginning of the 21st century, the celebration of Valentine's Day in Iran was sharply criticized by Islamic teachers who see the celebrations as a contrast to Islamic culture. In 2011, the Iranian Printing Works Owners' Union issued a policy that “the printing and production of all goods associated with this tag, including posters, boxes and cards decorated with hearts or half hearts, red roses, and all activities that promote this day ”ban. Sellers who violate this will be prosecuted by law.

In Iran there is the Sepandārmazgān or Esfandegān , a festival where people express their love for their mother or wife. In ancient Persian culture, the earth is also celebrated. Over time, this festival has been superseded by the celebration of Valentine's Day. The Association of Iran's Cultural and Natural Phenomena has endeavored since 2006 to proclaim February 17th as a national holiday and thus to displace Valentine's Day customs.


In Israel, the tradition of the Jewish holiday Tu B'Av has been revived and associated with an equivalent of Valentine's Day. Tu B'Av is celebrated on the 15th day of the month of Aw (usually the end of August). In ancient times women wore white dresses and danced in the vineyards where men waited for them ( Mishnah Ta'anit , end of chapter 4). Today Tu B'Av is celebrated as the second holiday of love among people and shares many of the customs with Valentine's Day. In modern Israeli culture, the holiday is very popular as a means of expressing love, proposing marriage, and exchanging gifts such as cards or flowers.


Sweets on sale in a Japanese store on February 15th

Valentine's Day 1936 became known in Japan through advertisements by the confectionery company Morozoff aimed at foreigners. In 1953, heart-shaped pralines were made, and other Japanese confectionery companies followed suit. In 1958 the Isetan department store organized a "Valentine's Day Sale". Further campaigns in the 1960s made the day better known in Japan.

The custom that only women give chocolates to men may have originated from a translation error made by a chocolate company during the first campaigns. Secretaries in particular give their male colleagues chocolate. In contrast to western countries, gifts such as greeting cards, flowers or invitations to dinner are not common. Japanese chocolate manufacturers make half of their annual sales during this time.

Many women feel obliged to give chocolate to all male colleagues, except when the day falls on a Sunday, a public holiday. This is known as giri-choko (義理 チ ョ コ), from giri ("duty") and choko ("chocolate"), with unpopular employees only getting the "ultra-compulsory" ( chō-giri choko ), cheap chocolate. This is in contrast to honmei-choko (本命 チ ョ コ, "chocolate of true feelings"), giving chocolate to a loved one. Friends, especially women, can exchange chocolate called tomo-choko (友 チ ョ コ), tomo means "friend".

In the 1980s, Japan's National Confectionery Industry Association (NCIA) recognized its campaign to introduce a “Day of Response” on March 14th as a success. On this day, women expect to get chocolate back from the recipient. This day is called " White Day " because pralines made of white chocolate are given. An earlier attempt failed when a marshmallow maker tried to impose that men should return marshmallows to women.

In Japan, the romantic “Date Night”, which is related to Valentine's Day, is celebrated on Christmas Eve.

According to a survey of persons aged 10 to 49 years in Japan Oricon Style lifted the single 1986 Valentine Kiss by Sayuri Kokusho as the most popular Valentine's Day song, although only 317,000 copies were sold. Other songs in the ranking were Love Love Love by Dreams Come True , Valentine's Radio by Yumi Matsutōya and My Funny Valentine by Miles Davis .

In Japan, July 7th is celebrated a slightly different version of a holiday based on a love story called Tanabata (七夕). Traditions and customs on this day are quite similar to those on Valentine's Day.


Saint Valentine is the patron saint of a large part of the Lebanese population. Couples exchange gifts around Valentine's Day. These usually contain chocolate, cupcakes and red roses, which are considered symbols of sacrifice and passion.

Valentine's Day is celebrated differently in every city. In the capital, Beirut , men take women out to eat and can give them a gift. Many women get a marriage proposal that day. In Sidon people celebrate with the whole family; this is also more about family love than lovers.


Islamic officials in West Malaysia warned Muslims not to celebrate Valentine's Day because they associated it with a vice. Vice Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin said the celebration of romantic love was "not appropriate" for Muslims. The director of the Department of Islamic Advancement of Malaysia (JAKIM), which oversees the country's Islamic policies, Wan Mohamad Sheikh Abdul Aziz, said a 2005 fatwa stated that the day was "associated with elements of Christianity." and one cannot “deal with the worship rituals of other religions”. In 2011, the JAKIM planned to run a nationwide campaign entitled Awas Jerat Valentine's Day (“Don't fall for Valentine's Day ”). This included raiding hotels to prevent unmarried young couples from having sex and distributing leaflets to Muslim university students. On Valentine's Day 2011, the Malaysian authorities arrested more than 100 Muslim couples for violating the Valentine's Day ban, with the aim of bringing them to justice in the Sharia court.

In East Malaysia, Valentine's Day celebrations by young Muslim couples are more likely to be tolerated, although some Islamic officials and Muslim activists are organizing daʿwa in an attempt to extend their bans to the east. In both states, Sabah and Sarawak , the celebration with flowers is common.


The concept of Valentine's Day was introduced through television and radio programs in Pakistan in the late 1990s. The Jamaat-e-Islami party called for a ban on Valentine's Day customs. Nonetheless, they became popular among urban youth, and the flower trade sells large quantities, especially red roses. The same goes for publishers of Valentine's Day cards. In 2016, the Peshawar city ​​government banned Valentine's Day celebrations in the city. The ban has also been implemented in other cities such as Kohat . The following year, Islamabad's Supreme Court banned Valentine's Day celebrations in public places in Pakistan.


In the Philippines, Valentine's Day, called Araw ng mga Puso , is celebrated in a similar way to Western Europe. As a rule, prices for flowers, especially red roses, go up sharply.

Saudi Arabia

In Saudi Arabia, the Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice (CPVPV) banned the sale of all items on Valentine's Day in 2002 and 2008 and asked sellers to remove red-colored goods as Valentine's Day was a Christian holiday . This ban created a black market for roses and wrapping paper. In 2012, more than 140 Muslims were arrested for celebrating Valentine's Day and all red roses were confiscated on sale. Muslims were not allowed to celebrate Valentine's Day, non-Muslims only behind closed doors. The Saudi cleric Sheikh Muhammad Al-'Arifi called Valentine's Day as Bid'a , a forbidden innovation and deviation from religious law and custom, and an imitation of the West. According to this view, the Sharia forbids celebrating Valentine's Day. The sale of items that could be used as Valentine's Day gifts had already been banned a few days beforehand. This has been different since 2018: Muslims can now also celebrate Valentine's Day.


Singapore is one of the biggest spenders on Valentine's Day. 60% of the population say they would spend between $ 100 and $ 500 in the weeks leading up to the holiday.

South Korea

In South Korea, women give away chocolate to men on February 14th. Men do not give women chocolate on March 14th, “ White Day ”. On April 14th, Black Day, those who did not receive anything on February 14th or March 14th go to a restaurant to eat jajangmyeon (자장면), noodles with black sauce, and to be single to complain. Koreans also celebrate Pepero Day on November 11, when young couples give each other pepper cookies . The date 11/11 is supposed to indicate the long shape of the biscuit. The 14th of every month marks a day of love in Korea, although most of it is unclear. From January to December it is "Candle Day", "Valentine's Day", "White Day", "Black Day", "Rose Day", "Kiss Day", "Silver Day", "Green Day", "Music Day" "," Wine Day "," Movie Day "and the" Hug Day ".


The Taipei 101 on Valentine's Day 2006

In Taiwan, the traditional Qixi Festival ("Festival of Lovers"), Valentine's Day from the West and Japanese White Day are celebrated, but in reverse to Japan. Men give presents to women on Valentine's Day, and women give them back on White Day.


In Thailand, Valentine's Day is not forbidden, but the applicable laws such as the ban on exchanging affection in public are respected. However, most young people celebrate this day, which is why there is a curfew for minors from 10 p.m. in Bangkok .

See also


Web links

Wiktionary: Valentine's Day  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
Commons : Valentine's Day  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files
Wikisource: Valentine's Day  - Sources and Full Texts

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