Valentine's Day in Latin America

Do you know the mythology behind Valentine's Day? Yeah, neither did we. That is until we picked up the latest issue of Forbes magazine to check out different ways that they celebrate the amorous holiday all over the world.

Apparently, it all began back in ancient Rome with a priest named Valentine. Emperor Claudius II had banned marriage, believing that single men made better soldiers. But Valentine, a consummate romantic, continued to marry young couples against the emperor's will. Eventually imprisoned for his disobedience, Valentine fell in love with a young girl who regularly came to visit him. Right before he died, the priest wrote her a love letter, which is now known as the first ever valentine.

These days, the romantic holiday spells big bucks for a variety of industries from candy to flowers. But we found the sentimental side of things more intriguing than the business possibilities, so check below to find out how Valentine's Day is celebrated across Latin America:

In Mexico, they start celebrating right after Christmas (and we thought Americans were V-day crazy!). Jennifer Hirsch, professor of socio-medical sciences at Columbia University, says the gift-giving is an expression of love and prosperity, especially among migrant laborers.

Brazileños celebrate Valentine's Day or Dia dos Namorados on June 12 instead of February 14th. This is to honor Saint Anthony, the patron saint of matchmaking and marriage. Single women participate in rituals such as writing boys names on little scraps of paper the night before, then folding them up and opening one on the 12th to determine who they should marry.

They celebrate a similar holiday on February 14th in Guatemala as well, but it is known as El Día del Cariño. Guatemaltecos exchange flowers, chocolates and cards just like we do here in the US, but it is a broader holiday than our American version. Their day is also about showing fondness for friends and co-workers, not just lovers. 

Happy Valentine's Day!

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About this author

Mariela Rosario,

I'm a raging opinionista and I love to share my ramblings on everything from pop culture to food to stuff that makes me laugh & cry! I've worked in all types of media (TV, film, print) and was previously the online editor at Latina magazine before joining Mamás Latinas. On most nights you can find me working my way through my library of cookbooks or playing with my puppy Lola (my only child so far). I have a wonderful hubby who shares my passion for any and all kinds of travel. Together, we've formed a semi-professional wine drinking team.

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