Choose an alternative Valentine's day gift: Paris, the City of Love
When you think about a gift for Valentine's day, usually chocolate and flowers come up for women, and ties or socks for men. As much as most of us love chocolate and getting flowers, it could be fun to get something a different.
Valentine's Day is all about romantic love, at least in some parts of the world. Think about what romantic love symbols mean to you.
To me, it's Paris, the city of love. Every time I visit Paris I fall in love with life itself. It's like everything becomes lighter and more adventurous. Most of the times I visited Paris it was on my own, on a business trip – and still, love was in the air. Every single time.
For this Valentine's Day, I created 6 Valentine's Day patterns. One is a sweet bike in the streets of Paris. Another is a heart – I couldn't resist a ‘crazy' anatomically correct heart. All the designs are available as wall art, cases & skins, home decor, card and tote bags in my shop.
The story of celebrating Saint Valentine
Did you know that Saint Valentine's Day was a pagan festival?
Fun fact: The Romans celebrated a Pagan holiday on February 14th to honour Juno Fructifier. She was Queen of the Roman gods and goddesses as well as the goddess of marriage. In one ritual, women would submit their names to a common box and men would each draw one out. These two would be a couple for the duration of the festival. Both rituals were designed to promote not only fertility but also life generally. You get really lucky here!
This was changed by Pope Gelasius I, who recast this pagan festival as a Christian feast day circa 496, declaring February 14 to be St. Valentine's Day.
Which St. Valentine this pope intended to honour remains a mystery. According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, there were at least three early Christian saints by that name. One was a priest in Rome. Another a bishop in Terni. The third St. Valentine almost nothing is known about, except that he met his end in Africa. All three Valentines were said to have been martyred on Feb. 14.
How St. Valentine's day is celebrated around the world.
Being from Denmark I have never celebrated Saint Valentine's Day. Yet, from the early 1990s, it started in Denmark too. We celebrated – and some still celebrate – the day in a different way. We find snowdrops (a flower), press them and exchange those with friends.
On February 14th, men also give women gaekkebrev, a “joking letter”. A funny poem or rhyme is written on cut paper and signed only with anonymous dots. If a woman who receives the gaekkebrev can guess the sender, she earns herself an Easter egg later that year. Adults also send those to children in their family.
France: A traditional Valentine’s Day event in France was the loterie d’amour, or “drawing for love.” Men and women would fill houses that faced one another, and then take turns calling out to one another and pairing off. Men who weren’t satisfied with their match could leave a woman for another, and the women left unmatched gathered afterwards for a bonfire.
Fun fact: During the bonfire, women burned pictures of the men who wronged them and hurled swears and insults at the opposite sex. The event became so uncontrollable that the French government banned the tradition altogether.
Wales: Here they celebrate Saint Dwynwen, the Welsh patron saint of lovers, on January 25th. One traditional romantic Welsh gift is a love spoon. As early as the 17th century, Welsh men carved intricate wooden spoons as a token of affection for the women they loved.
China: Valentine’s Day in China is Qixi, or the Seventh Night Festival, which falls on the seventh day of the seventh lunar month each year.
Women offer melon and other fruits to Zhinu in hopes of finding a good husband. Couples head to temples to pray for happiness and prosperity. At night, people look to the heavens to watch as stars Vega and Altair come close during the star-crossed pair’s annual reunion.
Norway: According to the legends, the sight of birds mating is a sure sign of spring and love. Norwegians look for birds especially on February 14.
Finland: Ystävänpäivä, meaning “Day of Friendship”. You send cards to your friends but the most common thing to do is to send text messages. Yes, it's boring, but practical, as Finns are (I have lived there for 5 years by now, so I know!).
Iceland: Flowers, flowers, everywhere, shops, streets, homes, restaurants. Then there are the food festivals, serving food all day. As Iceland has Polar Nights, it's dark at that time of the year, so candlelight breakfasts as well as dinners.
Ready to choose an alternative Valentine's day gift now, with all these cultural inspirations?
Visit my shop for fun and different Valentine's gifts. Culturally inspired.
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