Valentine’s Day around the World

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Julia Incorvaia, Staff Reporter

The customs and traditions of Valentine’s Day are celebrated in many ways, and in places around the world.

• The first gift was sent by the Duke of Orleans to his wife, after he was captured in 1415.

• In the Middle Ages, young men and women drew names from a bowl to see who their valentines would be. They would wear these names on their sleeves for one week. To wear your heart on your sleeve now means that it is easy for other people to know how you are feeling.

• The Italian city of Verona, where Shakespeare’s lovers Romeo and Juliet lived, receives about 1,000 letters addressed to Juliet every Valentine’s Day.

• Richard Cadbury invented the first Valentine’s Day candy box in the late 1800s.

• Alexander Graham Bell applied for his patent on the telephone, an “Improvement in Telegraphy”, on Valentine’s Day, 1876.

• The oldest surviving love poem till date is written in a clay tablet from the times of the Sumerians, inventors of writing, around 3500 B.C

• Amongst the earliest Valentine’s Day gifts were candies. The most common were chocolates in heart shaped boxes.

• In some countries, a young woman may receive a gift of clothing from a prospective suitor. If the gift is kept, then it means she has accepted his proposal of marriage

• If an individual thinks of five or six names considered to be suitable marriage partners and twists the stem of an apple while the names are being recited, then it is believed the eventual spouse will be the one whose name was recited at the moment the stem broke.

• In Medieval times, girls ate unusual foods on St Valentine’s Day to make them dream of their future husband.

• In Japan and South Korea, men are the ones that are spoiled by the women, not how it is here.

• In Denmark and Norway, men will write a woman a rhymed poem with a certain number of dots which represents the number of letters in his name. If the woman can guess her admirers name by Easter (later in the year) she wins an Easter egg and if she can’t guess his name then she owes him one.

• In Slovenia, Valentine’s Day is the day to start working in vineyards and fields as usually around this time of year one starts noticing the revival of plants and flowers.

• In Finland and Estonia, they call it “friend’s day” rather than “Valentine’s day” and they celebrate friendship instead.