The most romantic day of the year is arriving! February 14th has become a signal of love and, in some countries, also of friendship.
This special date allows couples and friends to exchange special treats with gifts, outings and other surprises that help to strengthen the bonds of their relationships.
However, this was not always the case…
While Valentine’s Day has become more commercial and couple-focused over time, this celebration has a slightly different origin. Also, it varies slightly in each Spanish-speaking region.
As we know that you are interested in learning Spanish, we will specifically guide you through the details of this festivity within Spain and Latin America. You will learn about its origins and its various celebrations.
Plus, we’ll give you some new vocabulary related to this special day and… an exclusive discount!
Grab a pencil and paper, and celebrate this February 14th in style with Spanish Express.
The Origin of Valentine’s Day
This holiday has a rather unusual creation, dating back to 3rd century Rome. During this historical period, the priest “Valentine” was engaged in marrying young lovers on the sly.
The ceremonies were secret, as they were forbidden by Emperor Claudius II, who claimed that unmarried young men were more useful in war as they lacked sentimental ties.
The priest decided to flout the orders and continued to perform the marriages. Eventually, the inevitable happened, and Claudius II found out about the ceremonies. Seeing that his command was not taken seriously, the Emperor ordered the death of priest Valentinus.
The sentence was dated February 14th, year 270. For this reason, the day was taken to honour the man who would now be remembered as Saint Valentine, for defying the law in the name of love.
While this is not Valentine’s day’s only circulating origin story, as even the Greeks have a myth about St. Valentine (who is depicted as Eros), it is this one that tends to be the most recurrent when discussing its origin.
However, it was not until the 19th century that Anglo-Saxon countries began to take this day into account. It is recorded that on February 14th they began to make it common for couples of the time to give each other letters and flowers.
In the 20th century, the tradition exploded, and thanks to Esther A. Howland, the mass marketing of gift cards with romantic themes began. This American was the driving force behind the custom, which eventually spread around the world and it became the wonderful holiday we know today.
February 14th in Hispanic countries
In most Latin American countries, such as Venezuela, Argentina, Cuba, Dominican Republic and Ecuador, this celebration is usually called Día del Amor y la Amistad (Day of Love and Friendship) in addition to Valentine’s Day.
The festivity, although it has its origins in the couple’s love, has been extended to friendships, which is why in these countries it is common to give a gift to close friends.
It is also common to play amigo secreto (secret friend), where several friends agree to participate. Each friend writes his or her name on a piece of paper, then these papers are put in a bowl and each person takes a piece of paper at random. It is not possible to reveal who has been given to whom, and the secret is revealed on the day the gift is given.
As for couples, the most common activities are to have dinner in a restaurant, give flowers, chocolates, and teddy bears. Some people take advantage of the holiday to take a romantic trip and escape their usual routines.
In Colombia, Bolivia and Uruguay, February 14th is not generally celebrated, as they instead enjoy similar festivities between September and October.
In Spain, things are slightly different. Although some parts of the country traditionally celebrate February 14th with flowers, chocolates and so on, in Aragon and Catalonia they wait until 23 April… and it’s well worth the wait.
These regions of Spain instead celebrate the Day of Love and Friendship in the name of Sant Jordi (Saint George), a tradition since 1094.
According to legend, it was Sant Jordi who saved an important princess from the clutches of a dragon that was stalking the village. The knight cut off the head of the beast, and from its blood, a red rose was born, which he took and presented to the princess.
So, on this day, men give roses to their partners or friends, while women give a book in exchange.
Without a doubt, this celebration takes the prize for the most romantic one.
Now… let’s test your knowledge!
Celebrate Valentine’s Day with Spanish Express!
If you want to experience the celebration of Sant Jordi, then come and visit us in Barcelona!
Luckily for you, we have spaces available for our Spanish Homestay Immersion Programme (SHIP); a unique opportunity to combine fun and learning and the most effective way to learn Spanish.
You can live and study in your teacher’s home, and be guided by a Spanish-speaking expert throughout their home towns!
This programme has four beautiful cities to choose from to start your journey in learning Spanish in the company of your special person.
Barcelona, Malaga, Valencia, Mallorca and soon, Menorca and Madrid, are the destinations available to you.
And, for this Valentine’s Day, we have a special promotion for you: buy one place in the programme and enjoy a 50% discount on the second one!
Visit us in Barcelona or Valencia with your couple or friends and enjoy this discount.
What better gift could you give yourself than an unforgettable getaway to learn Spanish?
Of course, you can always opt for one of our Spanish courses instead.
You are now able to unlock 1-month of free access to our Spanish Independent Learning course, a great gift for your couple or close friends this Valentine’s Day.
These discounts are valid until midnight on the 14th of February, so don’t miss out – you choose the gift, and we’ll take care of the rest!
Don’t wait any longer to give the best gift this February 14th, Spanish Express supports you celebrate in style.
Just don’t forget the flowers and chocolates! We are waiting for you.
Ginnette Di Damaso
Spanish Express Blogger