People in many countries celebrate love on February 14, on a holiday called Valentine’s Day, but in Brazil, we celebrate our Dia dos Namorados on June 12. Have you ever wondered why? What do they have in common, and what are the differences? Let’s find out!
Valentine’s Day started as a Christian holiday in the Middle Ages honoring a martyr named Valentine. Over time, it has become a secular holiday and it is now celebrated in different countries all over the world. Saint Valentine was a Roman clergyman from the 3rd century who ministered to persecuted Christians, and legend says that he performed weddings for soldiers who were forbidden to marry – the emperor at the time, Claudius II, believed that soldiers’ wives and family could compromise their performance in battle. Another story tells that while in prison for performing said illegal weddings, Saint Valentine fell in love with the jailer’s daughter and sent her a card signed ‘from your Valentine’ before his execution, on February 14, circa 270 C.E. This would be the first valentine’s card. Other historians, however, argue that the celebration was chosen to take place in the middle of February in an effort to Christianize the pastoral festival Lupercallia, a purifying festival dedicated to Faunus, god of forests, agriculture, and fertility.
In Brazil, Dia dos Namorados is commonly associated with another Catholic saint, Saint Anthony. Anthony of Padua was a Portuguese priest known as the patron saint of marriage and love because it is believed that he helped many couples find true love and reunite separate couples. Dia dos Namorados is celebrated on the previous day of his feast day, June 13. But this celebration is a fairly recent tradition, having started
in the late 1940s. The day was chosen by a marketing agency for a campaign to boost retail sales during June. Nonetheless, Saint Anthony is also celebrated in Festa Junina, along with Saint John and Saint Peter.
Both Dia dos Namorados and Valentine’s Day are typically associated with the exchange of romantic gifts, such as chocolate, flowers, and greeting cards (also known as ‘valentines’) to express affection and appreciation. Couples have a romantic dinner in a nice restaurant or even go for a special getaway trip. It is also a popular day for marriage proposals and weddings. However, Valentine’s Day is not just for romantic couples, and many people use it as an opportunity to express love and gratitude to their friends and family members as well. At school, children often exchange valentine’s cards.
Single’s Day: Double 11
And what about people who are not in a relationship? As a humorous response to the traditional holidays celebrated by couples, a group of students from China started celebrating November 11 (11.11) as Single’s day, and it soon became an unofficial holiday and shopping season festival.