[InKunming--Festivals] Valentine's Day, also known as St. Valentine's Day or the Feast of Saint Valentine, is observed on February 14 each year. It is celebrated in many countries around the world, although it remains a working day in most of them.
St. Valentine's Day began as a liturgical celebration of one or more early Christian saints named Valentinus. Several martyrdom stories were invented for the various Valentines that belonged to February 14, and added to later martyrologies.
A popular hagiographical account of Saint Valentine of Rome states that he was imprisoned for performing weddings for soldiers who were forbidden to marry and for ministering to Christians, who were persecuted under the Roman Empire. According to legend, during his imprisonment, he healed the daughter of his jailer, Asterius. An embellishment to this story states that before his execution he wrote her a letter signed "Your Valentine" as a farewell.
The day was first associated with romantic love in the circle of Geoffrey Chaucer in the High Middle Ages, when the tradition of courtly love flourished.
In 18th-century England, it evolved into an occasion in which lovers expressed their love for each other by presenting flowers, offering confectionery, and sending greeting cards (known as "valentines"). Since the 19th century, handwritten valentines have given way to mass-produced greeting cards. Valentine's Day symbols that are used today include the heart-shaped outline, roses, doves, and the figure of the winged Cupid.
Most of the couples around the world are accustomed to celebrate the day by doing some romantic things together, such as have a romantic dinner, watch movies, etc. People are used to presenting gifts, namely roses, chocolates, etc, to valentines.
Valentine's Day is a festival endowed with love and romance, yet different countries have different customs in celebrating the special day.
China: The Valentine's Day has been well received by couples nowadays. Singles usually express their love on this day, while couples are used to exchanging gifts to each other. Men mostly present flowers, chocolates, and jewelries. Women usually give chocolates or DIY articles as gifts to their lovers. Besides, many of them are apt to make marriage registrations or hold their wedding ceremonies on that special day.
Japan: Japanese are accustomed to having two Valentine's Days. The first one falls on February 14 when women present gifts, black chocolates in usual, to their valentines. The second one is called the White Day. It is celebrated on March 14 when men are required to give back some gifts to women.
South Korea: Couples also exchange gifts with each other on February 14. Besides, girls are granted the right to present gifts and express love to the one they have crushes on. People who fail in expressing love will celebrate their single status two months later on April 14.
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（Editors: Tracy, Cathy Chen）