How is Valentine’s Day celebrated in Guatemala?

Valentine’s Day (Feb. 14) is celebrated by many people throughout the world. In English-speaking countries, it is the traditional day on which lovers express their love for each other with Valentine’s Day cards (winged cupids are among the favorites), flowers and special dinners. Commercial valentines were introduced in the 1800s.

The history of St. Valentine—its patron saint—is shrouded in mystery. Valentine’s Day contains vestiges of both Christian and ancient Roman tradition. These legends go back to the third century in Rome. When Emperor Claudius II decided that single men made better soldiers than those with wives, he outlawed marriage for young men. Valentine, a priest, defied Claudius and continued to perform marriages for young lovers in secret. When Valentine’s actions were discovered, Claudius ordered that he be put to death.

He was imprisoned and later beheaded on Feb. 14, 269 A.D. Another legend has it that Valentine was a Roman who was martyred for refusing to give up Christianity. Pope Gelasius set aside Feb. 14 to honor St. Valentine in 496 A.D.

In Spanish-speaking countries, Valentine’s Day is known as Día del Cariño, and it is common for friends, family members and lovers to exchange hugs and small gifts. Chocolates and roses seem to be the favorites. Showing your affection to those you care about by a phone call, text-message or even a flower reminds us of, truly, those who are close to us.

¡Feliz Día del Cariño!

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