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Valentine’s Day: History, significance, cultural aspects of the day that celebrates the spirit of love

Valentine’s Day is a concept that has Western roots, but has gained rapid popularity across the world, including in India, especially in the recent years.

Kusum Sharma | New Delhi |

Have you ever loved someone with all your heart? Love is a magical emotion expressed by every human in different ways. Each love is exquisite in its own way. There may not be a specific definition of love, and a specific day to celebrate it, but everyone wants to do something special for the special someone on a special day just to celebrate the spirit of love. Valentine’s Day is one such day and it is celebrated on 14 February to mark the spirit of unconditional love.

On this day, people express their love for their loved ones. Various trends are followed in the modern era to celebrate this day with love, cheer, and enthusiasm. Valentine’s Day is a concept that has Western roots, but has gained rapid popularity across the world, including in India, especially in the recent years.

 Valentine’s Day history

The history of Valentine’s Day is an interesting mystery in itself. Valentine’s Day is originally celebrated in memory of Saint Valentine. However, there are different versions for the legend of Saint Valentine. According to one legend, Valentine was a priest in Rome who served during the rule of Emperor Claudius II around the 3rd century. When Claudius II outlawed the marriage of young men, with the objective that single men made better soldiers than those with wives and families, St Valentine defied his decision. He continued to perform marriages for young lovers. When Claudius came to know about it, he sentenced St Valentine to death.

Another legend suggests St Valentine fell in love with the jailer’s daughter while in prison. Before his death, it is said, he wrote a letter signed “From Your Valentine” to express his love for her. This phrase is still used in modern times by lovers to express their love.

Other stories suggest that Valentine’s Day is linked to Fertility Rites as the ancient tribes saw the month of February as the time of mating of human beings, animals and renewal of Earth.

Valentine’s Day in India

With Westernisation and opening up of the market economy, Indians also got introduced to this day of love. They became familiar with the popular trends of the West and started adopting them. Valentine’s Day was welcomed in India by the youth with high spirits. Over the years, Valentine’s Day has become a popular trend in India. Its effects on the Indian culture have helped people keep an open mind to the idea of love. The trend of celebrating Valentine’s Day in India has changed a lot in recent years.

Valentine’s Day is now a weeklong affair, with markets leveraging the craze around it. The Valentine’s Week is celebrated in the run-up to 14 February, starting from Rose Day (7 Feb), Propose Day, Chocolate Day, Teddy Day, Promise Day, Hug Day and Kiss Day. This Valentine’s Day fever has seen immense commercialisation in India. The industry sector – hospitality, food, travel and retail –make huge profits during the time.