Valentine’s Day is celebrated worldwide as a day of love and romance. It originates in Roman times, when Emperor Claudius II banned marriage and a young priest called Valentine continued to marry couples in secret. He was caught and put in prison, where he fell in love with a girl. He wrote her a love letter before he died – this was the world’s first Valentine!
Nowadays, Valentine’s Day is celebrated all over the world on February 14th, – also in Latin America! And here ‘El Día de San Valentín’ is not just a celebration of romantic love, but also of love between friends, colleagues and family. On this day, often called ‘El Dia del Amor y la Amistad’ (the Day of Love and Friendship), people exchange gifts and caring words with all the people that are important in their lives.
For instance in Peru they celebrate ‘El Día del Amor y de La Amistad’on February 14th, when they show their love and appreciation for lovers, friends and family alike with small gifts. Similarly in Ecuador they integrate the celebration of friendship and family, as do they in Guatemala where the day is more commonly known as ‘El Día del Cariño’ (the Day of Affection).
In Mexico, Venezuela, Chile and Argentina Valentine’s Day revolves mostly around romantic love, and on February 14th you can see couples everywhere making the most of ‘El Día de los Enamorados’. Mexicans are among the most romantic – they reserve this day to follow romantic pursuits such as winning a girls heart. The particularly wonderful way to do is the tradition of ‘Serenata’: sending a complete Mariachi band to the chosen girl!
Other Latinamerican countries focus on their own traditional date to celebrate love and friendship later in the year. Here, Valentine’s Day is recognized, but is simply an additional romantic holiday recently imported from abroad…
Los Brazileños celebrate Valentine’s Day or ‘Dia dos Namorados’ onJune 12 in honor of Saint Anthony, the patron saint of matchmaking and marriage. Single women carry out traditions such as writing boys names on scraps of paper and opening one on the 12th to determine their future husband.
Los Colombianos celebrate ‘El Día Del Amor y la Amistad’ on the third Friday and Saturday of September. They give secret gifts to friends, lovers, family or coworkers, much like we do in ‘Secret Santa’ at Christmas!
In Latin America, Valentine’s Day is for everyone, not exclusively for coupled-up people. So no need for the single among us to spend the day feeling blue. Here in Latin America February 14th is a chance to express your love for everyone you care about!
Happy Valentine’s Day!