A romantic date, celebrated the world over. A boom time for business in any capital city. Sales of cards, chocolates, flowers, teddy bears and restaurant bookings increase significantly at this time of year. However, this date represents a number of different stories and meanings.
Valentine’s Day, known in Brazil as the Dia dos namorados (Sweetheart’s Day), was originally celebrated on the day of St. Valentine. The history behind the date is a source of some debate, but it is believed that Valentine was a Bishop who carried out secret weddings in the Roman Empire (given that Emperor Claudius II had prohibited marriage), believing that unattached young men would be more likely to enlist for military service.
Valentine was exposed, arrested and condemned to death, but whilst imprisoned and awaiting sentencing he began to receive cards from many young people, saying that they still believed in love. Valentine was executed on 14 February 270 AD. Pope Gelasius canonized him as Saint Valentine and announced 14 February as his sacred day.
The romantic link can be traced in a number of ways, but perhaps the most credible dates back to the Middle Ages and Geoffrey Chaucer, the father of English Literature. In one of his poems, Chaucer cites the following phrase: “For this was on Saint Valentine’s Day, when every bird come there to choose his mate”. The poem’s, written in homage to King Richard II of England and his future wife Anne of Bohemia in 1382, was so successful that it quickly gained popularity amongst couples, who considered it full of romantic connotation.
By the mid-15th century, the date was already established and commemorated by lovers presenting each other with flowers, chocolates and cards. Nowadays, in England alone, around £500 million is spent on Valentine’s Day.
In Brazil, Valentine’s Day is on 12 June, one day before that of Saint Anthony, the famous saint of “matchmaking”. The date was likely chosen for commercial reasons, as businesses felt the need for a public holiday during the month of June, which was when the publicist João Agripino Doria, father of the former mayor of São Paulo and current São Paulo State Governor, João Doria Jr., inspired by the success of Valentine’s Day overseas, adapted the celebration for the Brazilian market.
Even though the day’s origins are perhaps not as enchanting as in other places, Brazil loves the Dia dos namorados; at the end of the day, who doesn’t? If you’re single, don’t feel left out; take the chance to show how much you care about the people who matter in your life. In spite of all the commercialisation, we can’t forget the essence of Valentine’s Day – a celebration of love.