It shouldn’t be any surprise that a day like Valentine’s Day would have its roots in Ancient Rome. Italy has always been known for its romance and public displays of love. Whether it’s the couple smooching at the table in the restaurant beside you, or the couples young and old walking hand in hand during their evening walks, or the scribbled expressions of love on pretty much every wall you pass. Love is very much a part of the everyday life of an Italian.
The story of Valentine’s Day comes from San Valentino (Saint Valentine). Valentino was a priest in Rome during a period of time when Christianity was still a new religion. The Emperor of Rome at the time, Claudius II, ordered Roman soldiers not to marry. Valentino disobeyed the Emperor and secretly married young couples. When his act of rebellion was discovered, he was arrested, imprisoned and eventually executed. Valentino was beheaded on February 14th. After his death, Valentino was named a saint and his feast day became a day to honour him through expressions of love.
Although in the Western part of the world the commercialism of this day is blown up into astronomical proportions. Here in Italy, the day is really no different, as far as I’ve seen in this smaller southern Italian city. The window shops are full of hearts, chocolates, and cuddly cute stuffed toys. The most famous chocolate treat for Valentine’s Day (or so it would seem based on the shops I pass daily) would have to be Baci Perugina. Although they are popular all year long, this chocolate hazelnut treat is the perfect candy to give on Valentine’s Day – not just because of its name “Baci“, which means “kiss” in Italian but also because it is wrapped up in a tiny slip of paper with a romantic poetic quote (written in 4 languages).
Valentine’s Day has always been associated with young romantic couples but over the years it has grown into more than just a day for couples. It has slowly become a day for all people to wish “Happy Valentine’s Day” to not just their husband or boyfriend, but also their friends, family and anyone else important to them.
So, I want to send some love out to all my blog readers. I hope you have a wonderful day filled with love.
Buon San Valentino!
P.S. If you are one of those single people who gets bummed out over Valentine’s Day, don’t worry because tomorrow’s your day. La Festa di San Faustino held on February 15th has become a day to celebrate being single. I’m not entirely sure why, but live it up!! Any excuse for a party!