It’s a day that has spawned more Hallmark cards and movie specials than you can possibly imagine. If you have a special someone to share it with, you’re really into it. If there is no special someone at the moment, you send a card to yourself and wait for the 15th.
Love is a complex emotion and is thoroughly integrated into this non-public holiday. It’s so complex Dictionary.com has a large page devoted to the word. The term can be used to describe an emotion for another person, or a product, place, or thing. The human heart is a common metaphor for love, and if you subscribe to this figure of speech, can easily be “broken.” The heart is a resilient little muscle, though—given time, it will usually bounce back.
Feelin’ kinda quizzy? Your Valentine’s Day quiz awaits.
Cupid was the Roman god of love. Gradually, over time, he underwent an image makeover in the interests of commerce. Fact Retriever says “he was originally depicted as a young man who would sharpen his arrows on a grindstone whetted with blood from an infant.” Yikes. Try and put that on a card, marketing department. Eventually, he turned into a fat little baby. “This transformation occurred during the Victorian era when business owners wanted to promote Valentine’s Day as more suitable for women and children.”
(Way) back in the day, there was a Saint Valentine of Rome. Actually, there were two of them. One in particular got himself tossed in jail for performing marriages for soldiers and for ministering to Christians, which the Roman Empire frowned upon. So while he was in jail he somehow healed the blindness of the daughter of his jailer, and right before he was executed he wrote her a letter and signed it “your Valentine.” NPR says “Emperor Claudius II executed two men, both named Valentine, on February 14 of different years in the 3rd century A.D.” No stay of execution for curing blindness? Rough crowd.
Red is, of course, the color of blood which flows through the heart. Fact Retriever noted that it was once thought the heart was “the part of the body that felt love.” And they add that when ancient Egyptians would mummify their dead, they’d remove all organs but the heart as they thought that was the one body part needed for “the trip through eternity.”
Chocolate is a key concept in Japan for Valentine’s Day. More than half of Japan’s yearly chocolate sales are for this day. Specifically, women give gifts of chocolate to men. Now follow closely here, as this gets a bit tricky.
Giri-choco is given to male friends, your male boss, and male office coworkers. This is just a platonic gift, as the word giri means obligation. Every guy a woman is friends with is supposed to get this type of gift—that sounds pretty pricey—but it’s done so that no guy feels embarrassed to be left out. The other type of chocolate is known as honmei choco. This is the high-end stuff reserved for boyfriends and husbands. Fun Factoid: men return the favor to women one month later. March 14 is known as White Day.
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