The Strange History and Practices of Valentine’s Day

Ah, Valentine’s Day, a beautiful holiday where we celebrate our significant others and the love we share for them. Certainly, nothing could be weird on a day where love is in the air and humankind is at its sweetest, right? Nope! I’m a single pringle, and instead of talking about mushy-gushy love and all that jazz, we’re going to get weird, folks! I mean, who would I be if I wasn’t true to myself and wrote about the weird parts of Valentine’s Day?

Did you know Valentine’s Day started as a form of rebellion? Supposedly, Emperor Claudius II didn’t want Roman men to marry during wartime, but Saint Valentine went against the Emperor’s wishes and performed weddings in secret. His act of rebellion didn’t end so well for him, though, as he was imprisoned for his acts and later hanged. Later on, the Roman Catholic Church removed him from the General Roman Calendar, yet still recognizes Feb. 14. as a date of Roman Martyrdom.

The tradition of signing messages with an ‘x’ or a kiss isn’t new. It’s thought to date back to modern times when many people couldn’t write and would emboss an ‘x’ at the end of their letters with wax or ink. This was to show sincerity when sending a letter. However, later on, it evolved to signify a kiss and no one is sure when it became common to add an ‘o’ to it to signify hugs.

In the Middle Ages, single women’s names would be placed in an Urn and men of the city would take a random name from the Urn and wear it on their sleeve all week to show off who their valentine was. It’s possible that this is where the term ‘wearing your heart on your sleeve’ came from. Oddly enough, there is a strange Valentine’s day tradition celebrated in South Africa, called Lupercalia, where young women will wear their lover’s name on their sleeve, which is a slight twist on the ancient Medieval tradition. However, some men also follow the festival tradition.

According to polled statistics, roughly around 73% of men will buy flowers on Valentine’s Day. Only 27% of women purchase flowers for Valentine’s Day. C’mon ladies, there’s no shame in buying your significant other some flowers! The tradition of buying your lover a red rose on Valentine’s to signify love dates back to Ancient Rome. The flower was thought to be the favorite of Venus: Goddess of Love.

In Germany, it’s tradition to gift your significant other a pig! Yep, you read that right. Pig-themed items can be found in droves in stores all across Germany during the month of February. Apparently, Pigs are symbols of lust and luck. Who knew? So I guess the next time someone serves you bacon, it just means they want you to be lucky!

All the single ladies, put your hands up! Now, go and get some black noodles and cry about how single you are with your friends. Sounds dark right? Well, that’s what South Korean single women do on April 14! If you weren’t lucky enough to get a Valentine, then you wait until April 14 and basically lament how single you are. Sounds like something I want to try!

These are just a few of the weird traditions celebrated all over the world on Valentine’s Day. Do you have a weird Valentine’s Day tradition? I’d love to hear from you if you do! Whatever your plans are, have a happy Valentine’s Day my friends and remember, stay classy.

Jeri Hensley

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