Every year, on 14th February, couples in the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, France and many other countries around the world exchange gifts, write cards, send flowers and go out for romantic meals, all in celebration of St. Valentine’s Day, which is said to be the most romantic day of the year.
With that said, the origins of Valentine’s Day are somewhat mysterious, because there are a number of different Saint Valentines recognised throughout history. Here, we explain what we do know about the holiday, share some fun facts and provide a helpful list of ways to say ‘I love you’ to that special someone in various different languages.
History of Valentine’s Day
A lot of people think of Valentine’s Day as a purely commercial holiday, driven by modern-day consumerism. However, its roots can be traced back thousands of years. In fact, St. Valentine’s Day was established by Pope Gelasius as far back as the 5th century, while pagans had a similar celebration – Lupercalia – even earlier than that.
So who was Saint Valentine? There are at least three early Christian martyrs recognised by the Catholic Church as having the name ‘Valentine’ or ‘Valentinus’, but the most popular legend is that Saint Valentine of Rome was a man imprisoned by the Romans for performing wedding ceremonies for soldiers, for whom marriage was forbidden.
This particular legend also states that Saint Valentine healed the daughter of the man who jailed him and wrote her a letter from his cell, which he signed from ‘Your Valentine’. This, it is said, explains why people today refer to themselves as being another person’s ‘Valentine’.
Regardless of the validity of such stories, it is likely that Valentine’s Day emerged from Lupercalia, which was a fertility festival, and was then subsequently ‘Christianised’. Over the years, the celebration has gradually evolved, with Valentine’s greetings appearing in the Middle Ages and cards becoming commonplace by the 20th century.
Fun Facts About Valentine’s Day
Despite the precise origins of Valentine’s Day being somewhat open to debate, there are a number of things that are more clearly known about the holiday. Here, we present some fun facts about Valentine’s Day around the world:
- Valentine’s Day is celebrated in the USA, UK, Canada, Australia, France, Italy, Denmark, Mexico and Japan.
- Around 1 billion Valentines cards are sent every year, making it second only to Christmas for card sending.
- 15 percent of women in the United States send themselves flowers for Valentine’s Day.
- In the UK alone, £1.3 billion is spent every year on Valentine’s Day cards and gifts.
- According to Hallmark, the majority of Valentines cards are bought in the six days before Valentine’s Day.
- More than 35 million boxes of chocolates shaped like a heart are sold annually for Valentine’s Day
Valentine’s Day Vocabulary
Ultimately, Valentine’s Day is about showing the person you love just how much they mean to you. One of the best ways to do that, of course, is simply to tell them that you love them. So, with that in mind, we have compiled a table of how to say the words “I love you” in 25 different languages:
- English – I love you
- French – Je t’aime
- German – Ich liebe dich
- Spanish – Te quiero / Te amo
- Italian – Ti amo
- Portuguese – Eu te amo
- Dutch – Ik hou van jou
- Polish – Kocham Ciebie
- Greek – S’agapo
- Russian – Ya lyublyu tebya
- Mandarin – Wo ai ni
- Japanese – Kimi o ai shiteru
- Thai – Pŏm rák kun (said by a male) / Chăn rák kun (said by a female)
- Turkish – Seni seviyorum
- Punjabi – Main tenu pyar karda haan
- Hindi – Hum Tumhe Pyar Karte hae
- Swedish – Jag alskar dig
- Finnish – Mina rakastan sinua
- Bulgarian – Obicham te
- Czech – Miluji te
- Serbian – Volim te
- Arabic – Ana Behibak (to a male) / Ana Behibek (to a female)
- Gaelic – Ta gra agam ort
- Latin – Te amo
- Afrikaans – Ek het jou life
Say It With a Song
Finally, music is a great way to express your feelings to the one you love, but is also a great way to learn another language. Whether your partner is foreign and you want to impress them in their own native tongue, or you just want to show off your language skills, why not learn a foreign love song and really express yourself this Valentine’s Day? Here, we have compiled a list of popular love songs in English, German, French and Spanish.
1. Whitney Houston – ‘I will always love you’
2. Stevie Wonder – ‘I Just Called to Say I Love You’
3. Rihanna – ‘We Found Love’
1. Helene Fischer – ‘Atemlos durch die Nacht’
2. Revolverheld feat. Marta Jandová – ‘Halt Dich an mir fest’
3. Söhne Mannheims – ‘Und Wenn Ein Lied’
1. Francis Cabrel – Je l’aime à mourir
2. Serge Gainsbourg & Jane Birkin – Je t’aime…moi non plus
3. Jacques Brel – Ne Me quitte pas
1. Alejandro Sanz – Y si fuera ella?
2. Enrique Iglesias – Bailando
3. Amaral – ‘Sin ti no soy nada’