Dear Au Pairs
and lovers from all over the world
Here we come to the most romantic day of the year. Whether you are fond of romance or not, February the 14th is going to have an impact on you, no matter what your romantic background is. TV and pop culture have always put great pressure on this day and it is undoubtedly interesting to find out how everything began.
Do you know who Valentine is? Why is this a special day dedicated to lovers? And are there any special celebrations around the world? Keep reading to get some inspiration about how celebrating Valentine’s with your Host Kids as well!
The history of Valentine’s day
Valentine’s day has been celebrated on the 14th February since the 5th century, when Pope Gelasius I dedicated this day to one of the martyrs of the Catholic Church, Saint Valentine
. But he didn’t simply choose a random day: as it was for Halloween
, the Pope carefully replaced a pre-existing festival, the Lupercalia
, with a new christian festivity.
was a feast, associated with the god of agriculture and fertility. During this day, animals were sacrificed in the same cave where, according to the legend, Romolo and Remo (the founders of Rome
) were nursed by the she-wolf. Women were also involved in peculiar rites, in order to get more fertile. It is also said that the names of women and men used to be put into a urn. Then, those whose names got picked had to become a couple for the whole following year.The Catholic Church decided to switch the celebrations, from fertility to love, always referred to a saint.
That’s how Valentine’s Day was born. But… who was Valentine?
There are various legends about the identity of Valentine. One of them displays Valentine to be a roman bishop who died for his faith, becoming the protector of lovers all around the world. He was also known for having celebrated the marriage between a young christian woman and a pagan man. Love overcomes all the differences, doesn’t it?
Other legends state that Valentine lived during the military empire of Claudius II. At that time, marriage was banned from the emperor who thought that single soldiers would be better warriors than married ones. But Father Valentine kept marrying couples in secret and because of that he was arrested and sentenced to death.
Regardless from which legend says the truth, Valentine remains associated with the triumph of love against all odds.
Valentine’s day in “pop culture”
Before becoming the current Valentine’s day, the 14th February has faced many transformations and evolutions. The Middle Ages were definitely a turning point. The English
poet Geoffrey Chaucer
was the first to name Valentine’s day as a romantic celebration. After that, Valentine’s day spread in the verses of countless poets and authors, first among everyone, William Shakespeare
In the 17th century, the UK
started producing love cards
and from this moment on Valentine’s day became an official consumers’ holiday. From the old-fashioned love cards, to chocolate, roses, candles, dinners and diamonds, Valentine’s day turned out to be a million dollar business.
Valentine’s day around the world
The whole world is celebrating love, with or without any reference to Valentine’s day. In the majority of countries, though, the exchange of gifts like flowers and chocolate is quite common. The most romantic couples go out for a dinner and who knows, a wedding ring might be hidden in the soufflé or in the champagne glass (watch out!). Even if the globalization spreads common habits about Valentine’s, there are still some countries which have peculiar celebrations.
There is a very nice tradition called Amigo secreto (Secret Friend) in some Latin American countries, where somebody gives a gift to his/her beloved without telling them their name. It’s a really nice idea, which adds a hint of romantic mystery.
Are you travelling to Brazil in June? You might attend the traditional women rituals, called simpatias, performed by single women who wish to find a good husband.
In Japan, the tradition of Valentine’s day goes upside down and in March women are the ones who give chocolates to men and co-workers!
Are you in love with chocolate? Well, you can decide to spend your Valentines’ in Ghana, which celebrates the National Chocolate Day on the 14th February.
Back to Europe: on San Dwynwen’ day (June, 25th) in Wales
, lovers exchange handcrafted wooden spoons as a symbol of love.
Polemics about Valentine’s day
It’s not only all fun and games on Valentine’s day. On the one hand we have lovers and sweet couples, happy to share this day with their soulmates. On the other hand, there are the Valentine’s opposers, singles or even couples, extremely cynical against a tradition considered highly hypocritical. The centre of the polemic is the fact that globalization, literature and idealism have spread an unrealistic image of love, attached to an old-fashioned idea of romanticism that can’t be true in modern times.
, singles take it seriously. They celebrate the day of San Faustino
on the 15th February. Singles usually go out for dinner, celebrating their happy single life. It’s not really clear why Saint Faustino is associated to this meaningful day, but still… it’s always a reason to celebrate.
Au Pairs’ Valentine
During your Au Pair stay, you may have to face the struggle of a long-distance relationship
. It’s not easy but Valentine’s Day can be a meaningful day for you as well. You can plan a very romantic dinner in front of the desktop, sipping a glass of wine during a video-call. Love 2.0, isn't’ it?
So, if you are not planning to go back home for the weekend, why not celebrating Valentine’s day with your Host Kids? They can learn a lot from this special day and you can help them in finding the true meaning of love for their family and friends.
There are a few things that you can organize on your Valentine’s day as an Au Pair. You can prepare delicious chocolate muffins
with your Host Kids
. We all know that Kids love to get their hands dirty in chocolate.
Then, you can help your Host Kids preparing love cards or letters for their family
: you can draw together and maybe write a little rhyme which they can recite in front of their parents. It can be a memorable moment and you can have lots of fun together!