Valentine’s Day is an opportunity for people in Canada to tell somebody that they love them in a romantic way. It falls on February 14, the name day of two saints, St Valentine of Rome and St Valentine of Terni. In pre-Christian times, the middle of February was a time of pagan fertility festivals in Europe and allegedly the time when birds chose a mate.
What Do People Do?
Many people send letters, cards, presents and gifts to the person with whom they have or want to have a romantic relationship. Valentine’s Day cards are often red or pink and decorated with images of hearts, red roses, teddy bears, presents or happy couples kissing or embracing. They may be in brightly colored, perhaps pink or red, envelopes.
Many people give gifts to loved ones on Valentine’s Day. Common gifts are:
- Flowers, particularly red roses.
- Chocolates and/or candy.
- Teddy bears.
- Toy hearts.
- Sparkling wine.
- Clothing, including lingerie.
Some people celebrate Valentine’s Day lavishly. They may treat their partner to a themed meal in a restaurant or a night in a luxury hotel. Others may take short breaks or vacations on Valentine’s Day.
Valentine’s Day can also be an occasion for a more general celebration of love and appreciation of people who are personally important to an individual. School children may help decorate their classrooms with hearts and spring birds and make cards or presents for their parents. Stores may also sell Valentine’s Day themed cakes, cookies or candy. Teenagers and young adults may hold Valentine’s Day parties or dances on or near February 14.
Valentine’s Day is not a public holiday. Schools, businesses, organizations, post offices and stores are open as usual. Public transport services run to their usual timetables. Restaurants and hotels may be busy as many people take out their partner for a romantic meal or night away in a hotel.
The origins of Valentine’s Day are not clear. It is thought that there were a number of local fertility festivals in Europe in pre-Christian times. These were often in the middle of February. Many people also thought that birds chose their mates at this time of year. Around the year 1380, the English poet Chaucer wrote a poem for the first anniversary of the engagement of King Richard II to Anne of Bohemia. This is thought to be the first association between celebrations of romantic love and St Valentine’s Day on February 14. The connection remained important throughout the middle ages.
In the mid-19th century, there was an increase in interest in Valentine’s Day, first in the United States, then in Canada. It was promoted by manufacturers of paper lace and cards as a means of increasing their sales. Gradually, this date was seen as an occasion for a man to present gifts to a woman with whom he had or would like to have had a romantic relationship. It was also customary for lovers to exchange handwritten notes. These have now largely been replaced by commercially produced cards.
The most common symbols of Valentine’s Day are heart shapes, which are used to decorate many things, including cards, trees, wrapping paper, cookies and gift boxes. Other symbols associated with February 14 are pairs of birds, cute teddy bears, Cupid and his arrows and couples kissing or embracing. The colors red and pink are often associated with Valentine’s Day.