Happy Valentine’s day! The 14th of February is that special time of the year when we celebrate love and romance, a day when restaurants are booked up and chocolate sales go through the roof! To understand why it is celebrated it is helpful to understand it’s history, how the traditions of Valentine’s Day started, and the importance of love.

This is your quest
author joanne reed
happy valentines day message
A Happy Valentine’s Day Message

The Importance of Love

Falling in or out of love is one of the strongest emotions that people can experience. Love can be kind. Love can be cruel. Love is everything. Love has been called one of the most studied and least understood areas of psychology, but while perhaps not understood it is not a surprise that we celebrate it and Valentine Day is this time of the year when lovers get together to celebrate their love for each other all in the name of St Valentine.

Why Valentine’s Day is Celebrated

There are various accounts as to the origin of Valentine’s day, but perhaps the most romantic is associated with the martyrdom story of Valentinus, or St Valentine of Rome.

St Valentine of Rome

Valentinus was a priest who served in third Century Rome. At that time Rome was involved in many unpopular and bloody expansion campaigns, the Emperor, Claudius II, had to maintain a strong army but found it difficult recruiting soldiers as young men with wives and families were reluctant to serve fearing turning their wives into windows and their children into orphans.  The Emperor decided to outlaw marriage for young men on the basis that single men made better and more willing soldiers. Valentinus defied Claudius and continued to perform marriages for lovers in secret, but when his actions were discovered, Claudius ordered that he be put to death. On 14 February around the year 270 AD, Valentinus was executed.

As it often happened during those days, the injustice of the execution was brought to light and recognized much later. For his great service in the name of love, Valentine was named a Saint after his death. The act of marrying young lovers in secret made Valentinus a criminal and a Saint.

Legend also says that while imprisoned, Valentinus grew close to his jailkeeper. Seeing he was erudite, the jailkeeper asked Valentinus to tutor his daughter, Julia, who was a pretty girl with a curious and intelligent mind but had been born blind. Valentinus taught her history, arithmetic, theology, and described the world of nature to her. Julia saw the world through his eyes, trusted his wisdom and found comfort in his quiet strength. On the eve of his execution, Valentinus wrote a last note to Julia, and signed it ‘from your Valentine.’ It is said that Julia planted a pink-blossomed almond tree near his grave. Today the almond tree remains a symbol of abiding love and friendship.

Lupercalia and St Valentine’s Day

Lupercalia was an ancient, pagan annual festival, observed in the city of Rome between 13–15 February to avert evil spirits and purify the city, releasing health and fertility. The Lupercalia festival survived the initial rise of Christianity but was outlawed, deemed un-Christian (well, OK, it was a bloody, violent and sexually-charged celebration awash with animal sacrifice), and replaced at the end of the 5th century by the celebration of St Valentine’s Day on the same date as today, February 14.

This is your quest
author joanne reed
happy valentines day message
Ophelia, “Tomorrow is Saint Valentine’s day, All in the morning betime,
And I a maid at your window, To be your Valentine.”

Coinciding with the start of birds’ mating season, at some point during the Middle Ages, Valentine’s Day or February 14 was associated with romance. The English poet Geoffrey Chaucer was the first to record St. Valentine’s Day as a day of romantic celebration with his 1375 poem Parliament of Foules. Later, Shakespeare cemented the day in two of his plays, A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Hamlet, where he alluded to the superstition that if two single people meet on the morning of St Valentine’s day they will likely get married.

Traditions of Valentine’s Day

The base and the root tradition of Valentine’s day is to spread love and share wishes and gifts. Traditions, and the choice of gifts, vary around the world – from wine in Bulgaria, to chocolate in Ghana (it is also National Chocolate Day there), but here I would like to share the Valentine experience in Korea.

Happy Valentine’s Day in Korea

In Korea, where I live, Valentine’s Day is celebrated a little differently. On February 14, the men can relax – they don’t need to worry about shopping for flowers or chocolates, because here it’s the day when women shower men with gifts. If that seems a little unfair, then think again, because the Korean Valentine’s celebration is perhaps a little more democratic than most other places and is just one in a series of calendar-dictated romantic days.

This is your quest
author joanne reed
happy valentines day message
Happy Valentine’s Day in Korea
Black Day in Korea

Korean men return their Valentine’s favor a month later on March 14, called White Day, by offering candy and gifts to their chosen one. Then, on April 14 – Black Day, all the single ladies (and men) head to their local Chinese restaurant to eat Jajangmyeon, or Korean black bean sauce noodles, to console their sorrows.

Romantic Love is Not Everything

Valentine’s day is a celebration of romantic or erotic love. This romantic love, called Eros by the Ancient Greeks, is the love that perhaps most naturally springs to mind and is the love that has been the inspiration for countless ballads, stories, pieces of art and has captured the imagination of singers, artists and poets throughout history. However, the Ancient Greeks were quite sophisticated about love and defined in total 8 types of love, Philia (Affectionate Love), Storge (Familial Love), Philautia (Self-Love), Agape (spiritual love), Ludus (Playful Love), Mania (Obsessive Love), and Pragma (Enduring Love).

If you are averse to romance you may find solace in the knowledge that the Ancient Greeks valued certain types of love such as Philia, Storge or Agape far above Eros.

Love is in the air; my happy Valentine’s Day message to you, is simply to wish you a Happy Valentine’s Day!


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41 Comments »

  1. Nice insight Joanne. While the ‘ethos’ behind it is good, the commercialisation and modern day approach are stained what could be a fun day. Now I would think it’s a day for most men to ‘make up’ for romantic mishaps from the past 12 months. I’ll be moving to Korea next!
    Followed you on Insta ‘ApiSahni’ – do give me a follow if you like.

    • Thanks for stopping by and for your comment 😀🙏. I agree. The ❤ celebration has been taken over by marketeers and businesses. In Korea they (budinesses) have managed to stretch the event to 3 dates in the calendar where it is expected that you go out to buy chocolates and gifts and go to restaurants to eat some noodles if you have no one to buy chocolates for?! But it looks like you will be checking out this korean 🇰🇷tradition for yourself soon. Welcome! Will check out your instagram.

  2. That post was great! I didn’t know Valentines Day was so sad though. Poor dude being killed for spreading love! I guess things don’t change. Thank you again. Oh, and i am going to work on Philautia (Self-Love) this year. I’m worth it and so are you!

    • Thanks Andrea for shopping by and for your comment. The legend of Valentinus is sad indeed but his ❤ legacy is still very much alive today! Quite an achievement! Working on Philautia is a great idea..👍 You are totally worth it! Just do it ✅

  3. A great history lesson on the origins of Valentine’s Day, Joanne. I liked learning about the Korean celebrations as well. They do seem more democratic. The variation is nice – a fun idea to celebrate love in a number of forms. Have a wonderful day filled with love.

    • Thank you! I really enjoy digging out forgotten tales and legends. It adds a bit more substance to the often-too commercialized celebration. The Koreans style of celebration make sense. Women exercise first choice. Men follow the women’s lead. For those without a Valentine they find solace not by eating chocolate 🍫and candies🍭🍬 (because no one offered them any?!) but manage to celebrate anyway by treating themselves to some nooddles 🍜!

  4. This was very interesting, who knew…. It is more democratic as you said. We males, specially durning these past years, the millennium type of years of the millennium generation that has in my view distorted the relationships amongst men and women. In this sense, here in Spain now if you open the door for the woman to get in the car, or to sit down in a restaurant you are considered a chauvinist, because SHE CAN OPEN HER OWN DOOR, SHE CAN SIT DOWN WITHOUT YOUR HELP!!!! They will yell. Like these are a lot of other examples but if I start naming it the comment will be a dissertation paper. Although at the end of the day we males pay for the meal, and even then it is considered to be disrespectful for the woman. I still don’t get it…. No we are not equals, physically(biological) and mentally our brains function different. Not being equals is not bad as they try to portray it, they try to confuse people that equality does make the woman not inferior. But not being equals has nothing to do with inferiority. Men are better by our biological(physical) and neurological at certain things and women are also better than men at other things and as important as the other things men are better at. Margaret Thatcher, great British Prime Minister doing the job that is mostly considered by men, she put all the guys into place. My mother, she can slap any guy around (metaphorically speaking). There are like these women a lot by the way, those exceptions that can do what is traditionally a mans job, but those are the exceptions not the rule simply because of our DNA, that is the truth, science backs it up. Man have stronger bone density and upper chest strength than women e.t.c. and women I believe are more intelligent in certain areas in certain specific situations and also more. It is getting to be a thesis paper…out.
    Happy Valentines day and in my case from a male to a female. From Spain to Korea.

    Again, very Interesting the post.

    • Hello Spain! Thank you Charly for stopping by and sharing your views on this. I agree with your perspective on this. It is a real shame that people think that way nowadays. I am an independent woman but I really appreciate when a man open the door of the car for me, walk me back home safely, pull a chair out for me or help me with my coat. Of course I can do all those things myself but it is really nice to be treated like a lady. It goes the other way too, women, like you demonstrated in your comment can be very strong, they can be real warriors and I will not think twice in getting into a fight if my life or the life of my loved ones were in jeopardy. I don’t like being put into a box and being dictated to act in a certain way to demonstrate i am an independent woman. I feel secure enough to accept myself with my strengths and weaknesses. And if you pay me a compliment I would gladly and graciously accept it without feeling the urge to sue you for sexual harrassment.

      • You said it, you are a strong and independent women. Which are characteristics I love in women. I don’t know why now a days the male has to be bombarded by those ideas. I myself feel confuse now when meeting a new girl, don’t even know if to pay for the meal or not, or say “do we split it up?”, I actually confused. Or if you say “You look beautiful”, that in a lot of cases in Spain they still are instilling that phrase is the males way to excerpt dominance….go figure. So what should I say then, “Hi, you look terrible” Then I would get sued for being impolite. And some women are actually using those tactics to get at their boyfriends or husbands. Seems like the world is upside down now a days. I´m glad to hear you on this since the other other person is my mother that will say the same as you plainly.

    • There are always interesting stories, tales and legends behind a lot of our calendar celebrations but they have been forgotten! I enjoy digging them out and share them! Thanks for stopping by 😀🙏. Stay tuned-in more to come.

    • Bonjour. Merci pour ton message, pour ta visite ainsi que pour tes ‘like”. Tu dois certainement bien parler anglais pour passer du temps a lire mes 🇬🇧 articles. Thank you. Much appreciated! J’ai traduit mon livre en Français ‘En Quête du Bonheur” ça me ferait plaisir de savoir ce que tu en penses. Toute une section du livre est consacrée au thème de l’amour ❤. Bon dimanche et bonne semaine. Bisous amicaux de Seoul 🇰🇷

  5. Coucou Joanne,
    Hélas, je ne suis pas un érudit en Anglais, mais je « me soigne », grâce au traducteur de Google, même si la traduction proposée est loin d’être parfaite !
    Mon rayon, c’est les Mathématiques… Mes loisirs sont la Famille, le Cyclisme, le Jardinage et l’Informatique…
    Quant à : « EN QUÊTE DU BONHEUR – Votre Mission », Merci « Maître » pour ce très beau cadeau dont je vais essayer de prendre soin en allant à sa découverte, dans la quête du Bien-être et des Trésors cachés…
    Prudence avec le Coronavirus, où le niveau d’alerte est au plus haut, bien sûr en Chine, mais aussi en Italie, en Corée du Sud, etc.
    Bien affectueusement et bisous d’Auvergne au cœur de La France. ❤

    • Coucou. Merci pour ce message et bienvenue à bord! 🤗🙏📖 Bonne lecture! Ici à Seoul les derniers chiffres Corona sont alarmant. Le “hot spot” est a Daegu dans le Sud. A Seoul on prend des precautions, masques😷, on evite les sorties ou il y a du monde mais surtout on renforce notre systeme immunitaire vitamines etc….Le gouvernement Coréen prend des mesures adequates pour essayer contenir le virus. L’Auvergne c’est ttes beau comme region j’y suis allée une fois. Ton prénom c’est Louis? Bisous de Seoul

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