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In the US, retailers will reap $20 billion in sales by the time the holiday is over and in the UK £1.37 billion.
Valentines Day however dates back to the Roman pagan festival of Lupercalia when people would honour the gods of agriculture and fertility. During Lupercalia women were whipped and animals were sacrificed – thankfully the event has evolved somewhat!
We spoke with our Friisberg people around the world and it seems they all have their own traditions to celebrate love.
The Feast of San Dionisio is celebrated on 9th October in Valencia. Much like Valentine’s Day (which is also celebrated in Spain as El día de San Valentín), the Feast of San Dionisio is a celebration of love and romance in the name of the patron saint of lovers and has been observed since around the 18th century. Gifting scarves full of marzipan is a sweet custom (Mocaorà) Women who receive this gift should keep all of their scarves to show how long the couple has been together.
The tradition of Gaekkebrev – the sending of a humorous love poem – is still very much alive in Denmark and Norway. They are written on hand-decorated cards or letters that resemble paper snowflakes and are sent anonymously. If the recipient of the poem can guess who sent it, then the sender must buy them with a chocolate egg for Easter. If, however, the sender remains undiscovered, then the recipient must buy a gift for them when their identity is revealed!
In Norway, rather than roses, friends and sweethearts exchange pressed white flowers – Snowdrops.
It’s been said that the first Valentine’s Day card originated in France when Charles, Duke of Orleans, sent love letters to his wife while imprisoned in the Tower of London in 1415.
Today, Italians celebrate Valentine’s Day with gifts and romantic dinners. One of the most popular Valentine’s Day gifts in Italy is Baci Perugina, which are small, chocolate-covered hazelnuts wrapped with a romantic quote printed in four languages.
Finland and Estonia opt for a friendlier celebration called Ystävän Päivä in Finnish and Sõbrapäev in Estonian instead. Here, February 14 is all about celebrating friendship, and people exchange presents and cards with the greeting ‘Happy Friends Day’.