Valentine’s Day: A worldwide celebration


Iraqis celebrate Valentine's Day at al-Zawra Park in Baghdad, Iraq, Sunday, Feb. 14, 2016. The city is plastered with Valentine hearts and roses, and Iraqis are enjoying a rare lull in violence but wondering how long it will last. Despite recent setbacks, the Islamic State group is still dug in west of Baghdad, and increasingly powerful Shiite militias patrol the streets. (AP Photo/Khalid Mohammed)



February is the month to show affection towards the people you love. Whether it is a spouse, a family member, or a close friend, there are many ways to express deep affection to a special someone. But why do people exchange over 180 million Valentine’s cards and gifts on this romantic holiday?

According to the History Channel, the tradition of Valentine’s Day began with the pastoral festival that was meant to get rid of evil spirits, and lure health and fertility. Lupercalia took place in ancient Rome on Feb. 13-15.  This date was later honored after the third-century Roman martyr Valentine. Saint Valentine was tortured to death for secretly marrying Christian couples during the monarchy of the Roman Emperor Claudius Gothicus in A.D. 268.

At a time of war, he believed that men who were married were inferior soldiers and thus banned marriages. However, it wasn’t until the 1300s that Feb. 14, was related to love and romance. In the 1700s the gift exchanges began. Although only two-thirds of the population celebrate this cheerful holiday, a total of $4.5 million are spent on candy and 220 million roses are produced the week before.

Seven hundred years later the tradition continues, Feb. 14, is the day when people appreciate and value each other exchanging gifts. Despite Valentine’s Day not being an official holiday it is celebrated in many countries worldwide including Spain, Austria, Britain, Germany, and Japan.

A couple take 'selfie' in front of a giant heart-shaped bouquet display by a vendor to attract customers on Valentine's Day, Sunday, Feb. 14, 2016. Celebrating Valentine's Day is considered un-Islamic by some in Pakistan, but many still buy flowers and exchange gifts with others. (AP Photo/Anjum Naveed)

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