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All we need is love!
by Dr Elsa Lycias Joel
2016-02-14 12:28:19
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How many times do we reiterate the origins of Valentine's Day, the story of St Valentine, a Roman priest who was martyred on or around February 14 in the year 270 CE and how he became the patron saint of lovers?  Most interesting is one ancient roman ceremony Lupercalia that included putting girls’ names in a box and letting the boys draw them out. Couples would then be paired off until the following year. Later on, the church substituted saints’ names for girls’ names in hope that the participant would model his life after the saint whose name he drew but since there wasn’t any participant, it was once again girls’ names that ended up in the box by the 16th century.

vale01_400Heart shaped paraphernalia in red and pink, roses, images and statues of cupids, and cupids’ bows and arrows symbolize the feeling of romance and love on Valentine’s Day. Cupid is usually portrayed as a small winged figure with a bow and arrow. In mythology, he uses his arrow to strike the hearts of people. People who fall in love are sometimes said to be “struck by Cupid's arrow”. However, the day specially marked focuses on love, romance, appreciation and friendship.

Eventually the custom of sending anonymous cards or messages to those whom one admired became the accepted way of celebrating Valentine’s Day. There was an increase in interest in Valentine's Day, first in the United States and then in Canada, in the mid-19th century. Early versions of Valentine cards in England in 1880s were fashioned of satin and lace and ornamented with flowers, ribbons, and images of cupids or birds.

It doesn’t really matter which part of the world you are in. Every corner of this has its own special reason and version of this day of love.

Many people around the world celebrate Valentine’s Day by acknowledging in different ways the people they love and adore.  Finns have a big heart and they are generous enough to share love with their friends too on this special day and hence this day is also referred as “Friend's day”. So what, lovers can be best friends too. The Guatemalans also believe that friends’ love also make up their lives.

In Australia it all began with the gold rush period but ended up with satin cushions, perfumed and decorated with flowers and colored shells. If your good enough than cupid, with a bow and arrows, you may get lucky with a humming bird or bird of paradise. And then the valentine treasure will be adorned with a taxidermied bird too.

Austrian men are blessed enough for all they need to do is gift a bunch of flowers to their love. Not necessarily from their home grown garden but from a bouquet shop.

If you are in the ‘Promised Land’, this day of love is all colorful. Love is aplenty, not expressed with roses, chocolates and candies, only for sweethearts or a spouse but parents, teachers, friends and any well-wisher. Like elsewhere Valentine’s Day cards are big business here next to restaurants.  

Are poems a real turn on for British women is a strong doubt doing the rounds. If no, why majority of the best loved romantic verses were penned by the poets there! So, I guess, in addition to the usual cards and chocolates, a man is considered the best if he manages to recite a romantic poem on his knees and unlock her heart. But who holds the wooden love spoon! Sweet plum buns or ginger bread or Plum Shuttles, these will find their ways only to children’s hearts. Silk stockings, garters, jewelry and perfumes are women’s best bet. Only on a leap year men can rest and wait for the women to say their love.

vale02_400Denmark is not just known for its island, pastries, cookies or hotdogs but for their women who ought to be good at guessing lest their life becomes a bad joke quite apart from missing the Easter egg. Their permutations and combinations are not supposed to fail them especially on this special day when they guess the name of their valentine from a few dots on the “joking letter” called Gaekkebrev which carries only a funny rhyme in it. Meanwhile, let’s try pronouncing ‘Gaekkebrev’ right.

Cartes d’amities is the only customary card for this day in France. Flower market is known to be booming at this time of the year in Germany as women suffer for flowers from their valentines.

Spring denotes a new beginning of anything special, be it emotions, feelings, impressions, experiences or all in one. Hence Italians once celebrated this day as a spring festival in open airs with young people gathering in ornamental gardens in full bloom or tree arbors listening to music and poems. Fragrance of flowers motivates love with songs and poems doing their bit. In Italy’s forgotten city Turin, on this day betrothed couples announced their weddings.

Japanese culture on this context is very interesting. It’s for the men to behave as to if they wish to end up receiving Giri- choco or Honmei-choco on February 14th. Friends, colleagues and the like receive Giri-choco which is store bought by women and given as mark of courtesy while the love of their life receive the chocolate of love specially prepared by women. Then, men get a time of one month to decide on their return gifts which ought to be triple the gift received in terms of quality and quantity. So on March 14th, also called the white day the lady love is pampered with white chocolates, jewellery, lingerie or anything that has a sentimental tone to it. This custom later spread to neighboring East Asian countries like South Korea, China and Taiwan. For Koreans with no romantic partners comes April 14th , the black day to get together and partake in black colored Jajang noodles. Black day can also be the right day to send across the right ‘I’m single and ready to mingle’ signal to the right person. A good Korean friend of mine Bae Mi Hee chuckles, “I always communicated clearly the idea of a perfect gift on Feb 14th”. Taiwanese ought to be good in counting mathematics as the number of red roses given signifies how a valentine is valued. One rose means “an only love”, eleven would mean “a favorite”, ninety-nine roses say “forever” and hundred proposes “we better get hitched”.

In Scotland “whenever you wear your hat, your day will be special”. Hats are special for one reason on this day when all single men take the time to walk into a valentine party never to forget the hat into which a paper with his name is dropped only to be picked by a fair and lovely maiden who will be his valentine till the party ends. Before he puts in the folded paper that has his name, he will make sure there are an equal number of lovely girls for the gentlemen-in-waiting. Well, after the party whether or not a love dance will end up in a usual or unusual marriage depends on what or how he was to her and may be on the gifts exchanged. Any man in search of a valentine date has to make sure he steps out of the house nothing short of a dandy for women mostly needn’t be told how and when to dress to the nines.

Romance languages are the most widely spoken in Spain is plain information. By name, Valencia, the third largest city in Spain is the place where anybody will think of heading to, if at all one happens to be in Spain on this special day. This is also known as the city built for romance and sensory indulgence. Wherever in Spain you are, bachelors don’t forget to give gifts to that valentine you court and married men a bouquet of roses your wife longs for.


Never Despair ladies as to whether you’ll see a goldfinch, robin or a sparrow. Just name the bird you see as you please. Once you decide to blow a dandelion on Valentine’s Day or choose to cut an apple to count the seeds inside make sure you had enough practice throughout the year and you pick the right stuff. Twisting the stem of an apple is fine with a woman when all the names she decides to recite are her charming princes.

Whichever part of the world we are we should know that the song “Diamonds are a girl’s best friend” is about the vanishing breed of woman who lives off the expensive gifts a man gives her. The best gifts for a woman are those that are ongoing, nothing flamboyant. Little lovely things make a difference. According to me gifts that give most women genuine pleasure are those with a personal touch- usually items of clothing, a brooch, key chains and phone charms could be a statement of caring because it’s about him recognizing her special tastes. These are diamonds that really count everyday and on a valentine’s day too.

Again on this day, it’s more about what and how a man should be because Sigmund Freud is still turning in his grave trying to figure out what women really want.




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Emanuel Paparella2016-02-14 15:57:51
When I teach Italian I tell my students on the first day of class that the appellation “Romance language” has precious little to do with “Romance” per se, but there is some truth in Italian and other Romance languages (all derived from the Latin, the mother language) being designated as the languages of love. Somehow, a song or a poem written or sung in Italian sounds better than one in a Germanic language. That may explain why Mozart wrote three of his operas in Italian.

Come to think of it, one of the greatest epic poems ever penned, The Divine Comedy, was written in Italian giving a literature to a whole people. The last verse of such a poem is all about love and goes like this: “l’amor che move il sole e le altre stelle” [the love that moves the sun and the other stars]. Ultimately, it’s all about love and not just in a romantic or erotic sense… but in the sense that love gives zest and meaning to life in general; without it life is impoverished. In its English translation, the content of the poem is retained but the romance of it all is weaker.

Indeed, Happy Valentine to lovers all over the world.

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