February ‘Tis the Season for Matters of the Heart, Predicting the Weather, History, Books and Religious Observances
By Dian Moore
February is an odd month – it’s the only one with 28 days three years out of four, and a time of year when a rodent is asked what the next six weeks of weather will be like. Potatoes are recognized and celebrated, and around the world, many countries observe Valentine’s Day.
Valentine’s Day began under mysterious conditions and debates still take place today on its actual beginnings. One story credits Saint Valentine, a priest who violated Roman law by marrying Christian couples against an edict issued by Claudius. The ruler believed soldiers were better fighters when not worried about families at home. Valentine's defiance of the law led to his own loss of life, accomplished by a nasty death.
However Valentine’s Day came to be, it is universally accepted as a day to celebrate love.
Celebrating Love Around the World
In the United States you would give romantic gifts, including cards, candy and flowers. American children usually exchange valentines with their friends and there may even be a classroom party. You would say, "I love you."
In Britain you would be saying, "I love you", too. Different regions have different customs, but most commonly, cards and gifts of flowers and chocolates are standard. One country-wide custom has children sing special songs to receive a reward of fruit, money or candy.
Over in Denmark you may send pressed white flowers, snowdrops, to friends. Danish men sometimes send a gaekkebrev (or "joking letter"). The sender writes a rhyme but instead of signing the card, he prints one dot for each letter of his name. The woman in receipt of the gaekkebrev must guess the sender, and if right, she receives an Easter Egg at Easter. Danes would say, "Jeg elsker dig."
If you were in Germany, "Ich liebe Dich" would be the phrase of the day. Flowers are the gift of choice, from males to females. Valentine gifts are usually love tokens accompanied by affectionate messages.
In Japan, women give tokens of love, but are rewarded a month later, in March, on White Day. A woman presents the gift to her special loved one, and her action invokes giri, or obligation, on behalf of the male. Chocolate is the most popular gift but most Japanese females believe store-bought chocolate are not a gift of true love, so many make the treats from scratch. In Japan, you would be saying, "Sukiyo."
"Sarang Ham-nida," is the lover’s message in Korea, but the traditional gift of candy on February 14, is only from females to males. Very similar to the custom in Japan, March 14 in Korea is also known as "White Day." On "White Day," young men confess their love for the first time to their sweethearts.
In Scotland today, you would probably say, "I love you," but the Scot-Gaelic phrase would be, "Tha gra\dh agam ort." Valentine's Day gifts are frequently given by both parties in the form of a love-token or true-love-knot.
In Spain, it is customary for courting couples to exchange gifts on Valentine's Day and for husbands to send their wives bouquets of roses. "Te amo" means "I love you!"
If your sweetheart said, "Gwa ai lee", then you would probably be in Taiwan, where Valentine's Day is celebrated twice, once on February 14th, and again on a special Valentine's Day in July, which originated from a Chinese fairy. Flower gifts hold great importance as messages are attached to the number of flowers given in the bouquet. One red rose indicates an only love. Eleven roses are not as desirable, since the significance of this sized arrangement means the receiver is only a favorite of the giver. Forever love is evidenced if 99 roses are given. And if one should receive a bouquet of 108 roses, the giver has asked the receiver to marry. Start counting ladies!
For more – go to How to Say "I Love You" in Different Languages (http://www.columbia.edu/~sss31/rainbow/i-love-you.html)
Random Acts of Kindness Week
Random Acts of Kindness Week begins February 13, and offers an opportunity for both genders of all ages to love their neighbor by being kind. Communities around the world participate in activities designed to generate kindness for friends, neighbors and communities.
American Heart Association and Australian Heart Foundation
A person’s heart sustains their life, and though love is determined by the mind, it’s long been accepted that the heart symbolizes love. Both America and Australia launch campaigns during February to educate their citizens on heart health and offer some fun tips and activities for celebrating Valentine’s Day or increasing the quality of your heart health.
- Australian Heart Foundation Heart Week Information (http://www.heartfoundation.com.au/index.cfm?page=243)
- United States American Heart Association (http://www.americanheart.org) February in America is American Heart Month and February 4, 2005 is National Wear Red Day across the country.
Switzerland and the United States observe Groundhog Day on February 2. Will the groundhog see his shadow? And if he does, what does it mean? You can find out by visiting the official Groundhog site at http://www.groundhog.org/
Other Important Observations for February
- Black History Month (http://www.biography.com/blackhistory/)
- President’s Day (http://www.whitehouse.gov/history/presidents/)
- Library Lover’s Month (http://www.librarysupport.net/librarylovers/)
- The Catholic observances – Candlemas (http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/03245b.htm) and Ash Wednesday (http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/01775b.htm ) (Catholic observances)
Dian Moore is a freelance Christian writer and editor, and the hands behind Hands for Hope.
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